Reported by: Katrina Wessman
Last Update: 5:38 am
MARICOPA COUNTY, AZ – Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has launched a new immigration and crime suppression sweep in the Valley.
Lieutenant Brian Lee said about 200 volunteer posse, reserves and deputies will participate in the two-day sweep that started at 5 p.m. Monday.
As of 9:45 p.m. Monday, 27 people have been taken into custody. According to officials, nine of the 27 were arrested on various state charges and do not appear to be undocumented immigrants.
Lee said the remaining 18 are currently being processed from a “load vehicle” in North Phoenix and are suspected of being in the country illegally.
Arpaio said previously this operation will take advantage of posse helicopters to visually assist ground crews in locating potential “load vehicles.”
Arpaio said this operation will have a substantial focus on human smuggling.
The sheriff's sweeps in some heavily Latino areas of metro Phoenix have drawn criticism that Arpaio's deputies racially profile people.
Arpaio said people pulled over in the sweeps were approached because deputies had probable cause to believe they had committed crimes and that it was only afterward that deputies found many of them were illegal immigrants.
Since March 2006, Sheriff's deputies have reportedly stopped hundreds of load vehicles concluding in the arrests of 1,710 smugglers and co-conspirators, under the felony human smuggling laws.
The undocumented immigration enforcement by deputies has netted a total of 3,532 arrests on state and federal charges since March 2006.
In October, the Obama administration took away Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s authority under the 287g program, which grants power to local authorities to enforce federal immigration laws.
Under the program, 100 sheriff's deputies had been trained to arrest people suspected of being in the country illegally.
However, now, those deputies must call ICE agents to make those arrests.