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Ariz. raid nets 62 suspected smugglers, 528 illegal immigrants

The Associated Press

PHOENIX- A two-month investigation has resulted in the arrests of 62 suspected human smugglers and 528 illegal immigrants, authorities said Wednesday.

Phoenix Police Chief Jack Harris said the multi-agency task force also seized 11 weapons, 62 vehicles, six real estate locations valued at $1.7 million, $4.8 million in cash, 5 kilograms of cocaine and about 3 pounds of marijuana.

The operation focused on multiple "coyote groups" of varying sizes, including some "mom and pop" organizations that dabble in both illegal drugs and immigrant smuggling, said Glen Gardner, commander of the drug enforcement bureau for Phoenix police, who supervised part of the financial investigation.

In August, a state law went into effect making human and drug smuggling a felony in Arizona, the busiest illegal entry point along the U.S.-Mexico border. Smuggling already was a federal felony.

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