Illegal immigrants with chicken pox found in van on I-17

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PHOENIX -- During a routine traffic stop Tuesday afternoon, Maricopa County sheriff's deputies discovered a van filled with illegal immigrants who they say could pose a significant health risk.

Deputies stopped the van on Interstate 17 near Jomax Road and arrested 11 occupants who are all from Mexico. Deputies determined that up to four of them were ill.

One illegal immigrant was confirmed as having chicken pox and three others are suspected of being infected. All occupants have been exposed and may be carriers of the highly infectious airborne disease.

"This is a risk to our community and to my deputies," Sheriff Joe Arpaio said. "Deputies never know what they may face in the course of enforcing human smuggling laws."

Arpaio said that in the last two months, four inmates, all illegal immigrants from Mexico, had chicken pox. One hundred and sixty inmates were placed into immediate medical quarantine.