07/19/2006

Authorities find dozens of Ariz. immigrants stranded in desert

By CHRIS KAHN
Associated Press Writer

TONOPAH, Ariz.- About 75 illegal immigrants were found Tuesday in the desert about 50 miles west of Phoenix, many suffering from dehydration and exhaustion from triple-digit heat, authorities said.

Seven immigrants and three sheriff's deputies were taken to hospitals for treatment, said Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Officers used a helicopter, canine units and all-terrain vehicles, and conducted foot patrols to search for others believed to be in the area.

Lt. Chuck Siemens, who was in charge of the search, estimated late Tuesday that fewer than 20 people were still in the desert.

The immigrants told authorities that three people had died in the desert, but the search hasn't turned up any bodies, authorities said.

Investigators suspect that the immigrants were left in the location until smugglers could arrange transportation for them to be taken elsewhere, Arpaio said.

Siemens said some of the immigrants said they hadn't had water since Sunday. "We passed out water bottles and it was a frenzy," he said.

Federal officials said groups of illegal immigrants have been found in that part of the county before.

Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, is Arizona's most populous county.

Associated PressCopyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Back to previous page