2/12/2013 2:01:00 PM Human-smuggling van stopped on I-17
During a drug interdiction detail on Feb. 7 involving Yavapai County Sheriff's Office K9 deputies, a gold Dodge Caravan was stopped for an equipment violation on northbound Interstate 17 in the area of Cordes Junction.
The 3:15 p.m. traffic stop resulted in contact with a male driver who produced a Mexican identification card but was otherwise unlicensed to drive. While speaking with the driver, the deputy saw approximately 15 individuals attempting to hide within the van. While the deputy called for backup, the driver and four others fled into the adjacent area, according to the YCSO report.
The deputy was able to contain the last 10 occupants until other deputies arrived. They were unable to find the driver.
Deputies suspected the people were in the country illegally. While inspecting the vehicle, deputies noticed it had a modified suspension designed to handle a large amount of weight. The rear suspension included very large air shocks with a bumper mounted filler valve along with rear non-stock heavy duty pick-up truck tires.
Deputies contacted Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) by phone and the remaining 10 were interviewed by an ICE agent over the phone in Spanish to check legal residency status.
ICE officials determined everyone in the group was undocumented and requested they be transported to the Camp Verde Detention Center pending an immigration detainer notice. A YCSO detention van was used for transportation to the jail and ICE agents arrived later that evening to take custody of the group pending deportation hearings.
Due to modification of the vehicle for the specific purpose of transporting human cargo, it was impounded pending a request to seize the vehicle as asset forfeiture.