14 Suspected illegal immigrants rescued from Avondale home

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AVONDALE -- More than a dozen suspected illegal immigrants were rescued and four suspected human smugglers were arrested after a drop house was found in Avondale Tuesday night.

A multi-agency task force comprised of the Department of Public Safety, the Phoenix Police Department and federal immigration agents discovered the drop house near 125th Avenue and Van Buren Street.

After an out-of-state tip, detectives learned that four illegal immigrants were being held against their will and were being extorted for ransom money inside the home.

Detectives served a search warrant at the home and found a total of 14 illegal immigrants, including one female.

Investigators believe the victims were beaten and threatened with murder if they did not raise their ransom, according to Bart Graves with DPS

Three suspected human smugglers were arrested after they tried to escape to the rear of the house. Another suspect was taken into custody at an earlier traffic stop.

Graves said the house was heavily fortified and weapons were found inside. There were exterior deadbolts on all the inner doors and a closed circuit security camera in one of the rooms where the victims were being held. The video monitor was located in the kitchen.

All 14 suspected illegal immigrants were turned over to the custody of ICE.