Nine suspected undocumented immigrants who bailed out of a vehicle north of Phoenix are in custody after a two-day search, Maricopa County Sheriff's deputies said.
Sheriff's deputies initiated a traffic stop Wednesday night on a vehicle on I-17 north of Pioneer Road.
Between eight to 10 occupants fled on foot into a neighborhood. MCSO set up a perimeter and with the use of the sheriff's helicopter and K-9 units, deputies located three suspects. One was hiding in a backyard of a residence, the others were hiding in a wash. After about an hour, the search was called off with no other leads.
Thursday morning, MCSO received tips that the remaining group of suspects were gathered at a Circle K in the area of Daisy Mountain Road and I-17. When deputies arrived, the suspects again fled on foot toward a local neighborhood. After an hour-long search, deputies located and arrested six suspects.
Sheriff's Human Smuggling Unit detectives learned that the suspects paid between $2,000 and $3,000 to be illegally smuggled into the U.S. They were heading for Los Angeles.
In a separate incident Wednesday morning, detectives from the sheriff's Human Smuggling Unit observed a vehicle on the side of a well-traveled road in Southern Maricopa County. On closer inspection, they said it was loaded with what appeared to be large bundles of marijuana.
Detectives approached the vehicle and four Hispanic men fled into the desert while the vehicle, occupied by two other men, sped off, MCSO said. It came to an abrupt stop a short distance later where the two occupants fled on foot into the desert.
Sheriff's detectives, with the help of the Arizona Department of Public Safety, sheriff's K-9 units and helicopter, searched the area for more than an hour and were able to locate and arrest four suspects. Two others remain outstanding. MCSO found three large bales of marijuana weighing about 120 pounds, with a street value of $62,000.
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