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Five coyotes arrested and 11 victims rescued in IIMPACT operation. Victims report physical abuse including being pistol whipped by the coyotes.

Victims set fire to the attic of an outbuilding where they were being held in an attempt to get help

Saturday, January 2, 2010 -

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IIMPACT investigators investigate and dismantle a drop house in west Phoenix arresting five coyotes and rescuing 11 illegal immigrant victims. Two coyotes were apprehended after leaving in a vehicle and three others were apprehended at the residence once the home was surrounded. All suspects were taken into custody with none outstanding. The five suspected human smugglers (coyotes) consisting of four men and one woman are believed to be Mexican Nationals in the country illegally; they face charges of kidnapping, extortion, and human smuggling.

On, Jan. 1, 2010, the victims set fire to the attic of the rear outbuilding where they were being held captive in order to summon help. However, the coyotes quickly moved them into the main residence before the Phoenix Fire Department arrived on scene. One of the victims was able to make phone contact with a friend and described to him where he was being held as he was familer with the area. The friend also recognized the area and was able to locate the actual house and then contacted the Phoenix Police Department.

On, Jan. 2, 2010, at about 5:06 p.m., the Phoenix Police Department (PPD) responded to the residence of 5111 W. Encanto Blvd. Phoenix, for a check welfare call. Upon attempting contact with the occupants inside it became clear the home was a drop house. Phoenix Police Officers surrounded the residence and called the occupants out of the house. A total of 14 people came out of the house. The PPD Special Assignment Unit (SAU) or SWAT Team was called to the residence to clear it and ensure no other suspects or victims remained in the house. No other occupants were located. Three suspects were found among those who came out of the house and two other suspects were stopped in a vehicle seen leaving the residence. All five suspects are believed to be Mexican Nationals and in the country illegally. The victims are all adult males and are believed to be from Mexico, El Salvador, and Guatemala and smuggled into the country illegally. Additionally, the victims reported to have been held for up to one week in deplorable conditions in a rear outbuilding. The victims also reported being held against their will at gunpoint and being pistol whipped by the coyotes.

Updated information:

The names of the arrested suspects are as follows:

1) Lorena E. MURRIETA-Sanchez 39, of Mexico
2) Etelberto A. SILVA 29, of Mexico
3) Jose A. LIZARRAGA-Navarro 25, of Mexico
4) Alfredo S. CENTENO 22, of Mexico
5) Omar G. FRANCO 28, of Mexico

During a search of the residence numerous cell phones were seized. The smuggling ledgers, a Jennings 9mm handgun, and a .22 cal revolver were found underneath the stove pot/pans tray. The suspects were booked at the Maricopa County 4th avenue Jail on charges of kidnapping, extortion, and human smuggling. The undocumented immigrant victims were turned over to ICE Detention and Removal.

    IIMPACT (Illegal Immigration Prevention & Apprehension Co-op Team) is a multi-agency project managed by GIITEM of the Arizona Department of Public Safety that is designed to “deter, disrupt and dismantle violent criminal organizations profiting from human smuggling.” In most IIMPACT cases, crimes of kidnapping, extortion, assault and human smuggling are prevalent. IIMPACT is comprised of investigators from the Phoenix Police Department, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS).


    The Arizona Department of Public Safety is a state-level law enforcement agency whose mission is to protect human life and property by enforcing state laws, deterring criminal activity and providing vital support to the State of Arizona and its citizens.