Archive for Tuesday, October 31, 2006

More than 40 arrested in smuggling ring

October 31, 2006

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— More than 40 people were arrested in connection with a family-run smuggling ring that brought hundreds of illegal immigrants into the country, officials said Monday.

The 44 arrests came after a two-year investigation into the ring, which operated out of the southern Arizona town of Bowie, officials said. Many of those arrested are American citizens, officials said. Eleven more suspects, including at least five Mexican nationals, remained at large Monday.

"This network organized, housed, fed, guided and transported large numbers of illegal aliens across the border," said Paul K. Charlton, U.S. attorney for Arizona.

The suspects were named in an indictment this month. They included the suspected ring leader, his wife, guides who walked people across the border, drivers who transported illegal immigrants and "money runners" who picked up smuggling fees.

Officials said each migrant was charged between $500 and $800 to be smuggled from Agua Prieta, Mexico, to Bowie, about 83 miles east of Tucson. They would be charged more - sometimes as much as $2,000 - to be moved from Bowie to their destination.

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