Sheriff Arpaio defends his crime sweep operations

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX -- Sheriff Joe Arpaio's controversial crime sweeps continue, despite lawsuits and a federal investigation into whether those sweeps are racially motivated.

"This operation is geared toward crime, not an illegal immigration operation, "said Sheriff Arpaio after ordering a two-day crime suppression operation, the first since a new court ruling in October.

Sheriff Arpaio launched the two-day crime suppression operation over the weekend. It led to 37 arrests,127 citations and 15 vehicles towed.

"Do not arouse the wrath of this sheriff, " said Sheriff Arpaio.

The sheriff said he is sending a clear message that his department is here to do its job to uphold state laws, despite a recent federal investigation into racial profiling.

"They know what they're doing, they are professional and will continue to do their job in a professional manner, " said Sheriff Arpaio.

However, The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona says the department is not complying with new court orders where the sheriff must seek approval from the courts for any large scale operations.

The ACLU has filed a violations complaint to the courts against the department for not giving adequate notice about the crime suppression operation.

"We were surprised by it; we had no prior notice, " said Dan Pochoda of the ACLU.

The ACLU says the Sheriff must send any large-scale, non-emergency operation plan to the monitor or court before conducting any operations like the one over the weekend.

However, Sheriff Arpaio says information was filed in the courts on October 17 by his attorneys as a courtesy and without obligation.

The ACLU says it was only given a one-day notice about the two-day operation, and says that was not adequate time for the operation plans to be reviewed.