Immigration and Customs Enforcement sweep nets 78 arrests in Arizona

PHOENIX - The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency says a week-long special operation all over Arizona netted the arrests of 78 immigrants, including some who had been convicted of serious crimes in the past.

Field office director Henry Lucero said Friday that the operation in Phoenix, Yuma, Flagstaff and other areas last week ended with the arrest of dozens of people with serious convictions like aggravated assault, kidnapping, drug trafficking and domestic violence.

ABC15's Nick Ciletti went rode along exclusively with ICE as they made the arrests, in one morning, taking five Valley men into custody. 

Nearly 30 of those arrested had DUI convictions. Other crimes included illegally re-entering the country and drug trafficking. 

"We make every effort to identify them, to locate them, and to arrest them as soon as we can," explained Alex Almeda, Asst. Field Officer, Dir. of Enforcement and Removal Operations. 

After they're arrested, the detainees are transported to ICE's facility in Phoenix where they are fingerprinted, interviewed, and processed, then placed into holding cells for no more than 12 hours. 

Most will be transported to a detention center in Florence; for some, these will be their last moments in the U.S. before they are deported. 

Lucero said in average weeks, the agency's Arizona officers book more than 1,000 immigrants into custody, remove 300 people from the country, take 150 people from county jails after they're released and raid drop houses, including one in the Phoenix area recently that netted the arrest of 19 immigrants and the seizure of an illegally-owned automatic rifle.

Lucero said Arizona is the second-busiest area for ICE officers in the country.

Of the 78 people arrested, ICE says most were from Mexico. Other include people from Peru, Guatemala, and El Salvador, and an individual from Russia who had been convicted of human trafficking. 

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