Illegal immigrants beaten, extorted in Phoenix

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX -- Eight undocumented immigrants were being held against their will at a home near 47th Avenue and Encanto Boulevard in Phoenix.

On Wednesday morning, the Phoenix Police Department received a 911 call to do a welfare check at a home in the 4700 block of West Vernon Avenue.

Department of Public Safety spokesman Harold Sanders said police officers found 11 people in the house.

Three have been identified as suspects and are being interviewed. The other eight are undocumented immigrants who were being held against their will and extorted.

Sanders said the immigrants, who are all men, were previously held at another house where they were threatened, held at gunpoint and beaten.

Police officers called the Illegal Immigration Prevention & Apprehension Co-op Team (IIMPACT) and detectives interviewed the individuals being held.

The victims said they had paid about $3,000 to get from Mexico to California, but they only made it to Phoenix. The suspects extorted them for another $500 each to be taken to California.

Police investigated a location near 105th Drive and Indian School Road in Avondale. Five illegal immigrants were found inside the home. Two of them were identified as victims being held against their will and the other three were identified as suspects who were serving as guards to prevent the escape of the two victims.

IIMPACT detectives were able to determine that the Avondale residence was the location where the beatings and threats occurred.

Detectives found several weapons, including two handguns, a large knife, baseball bat and wooden dowels, that were used to conduct the threats, intimidation and physical beatings. Also, a ledger was seized that contained information relevant to the human smuggler operation.

The undocumented immigrants will be turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.