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IIMPACT detectives seize west Phoenix drop house

6 suspected human smugglers arrested/16 victims rescued

Wednesday, June 2, 2010 -

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On Wednesday, June 2, 2010, 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 area drop house. The investigation later determined the victims were being held in a house at 4830 N. 79th Drive. Shortly after 1:00 p.m., the Arizona Department of Public Safety Special Operations Unit (SOU) served a search warrant at the above address.

Four 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.

18 victims were found inside the home. They entered the U.S. illegally from El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico. The victims include three juvenile males, two females and 11 male adults.

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 this drop house had been operating for a long period of time.

The 6 suspects were taken to IIMPACT headquarters for questioning before being booked into the 4th avenue jail in Phoenix and charged with human smuggling. The victims were transported to IIMPACT for processing.

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.