16 Rescued from Phoenix drop house; 6 smugglers arrested

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PHOENIX -- Six suspected human smugglers were arrested Wednesday after IIMPACT detectives received a tip from out of state that two people were being held against their will while being extorted for money at a Phoenix drop house.

Shortly after 1 p.m., the Arizona Department of Public Safety Special Operations Unit served a search warrant at a house near Camelback Road and 79th Avenue.

Six suspected human smugglers fled the house on foot, running into the backyards of several nearby homes. Officers found one suspect hiding inside a Dumpster. All of the suspects, five men and one woman, were located.

Sixteen illegal immigrants were found inside the home. According to IIMPACT detectives, they entered the U.S. illegally from El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico. The victims included three juvenile males, two women and 11 men.

Several victims told IIMPACT detectives there were armed guards working in shifts inside the home and that all of them were being threatened and extorted for money. Investigators believe the drop house had been operating for a long period of time.

The six suspects were taken to IIMPACT headquarters for questioning before being booked into the Fourth Avenue Jail and charged with human smuggling. The victims were transported to IIMPACT for processing.