AZ DPS CHASE Yields 23 suspected illegal immigrants in minivan
KPHO 5 News
A minivan crammed with 23 suspected illegal immigrants was stopped by Department of Public Safety officers in Chandler early Friday morning after another car rammed a DPS cruiser in what officials said was an attempt to divert attention from the van.
The chase began near Queen Creek when a DPS officer began following a minivan with front-end damage on westbound Interstate 10, said Terry Lincoln of DPS. The van had been reported stolen.
- SLIDESHOW: Chase yields illegal immigrants
While following the van, the DPS officer saw a car driving erratically that bumped the DPS cruiser to draw attention away from the van. Lincoln said this is a tactic often used by human smugglers when accompanying the transport of illegal immigrants.
DPS said the chase car was stopped at Elliott and Rural roads in Tempe around 6:15 a.m. by DPS and Tempe officers, as other DPS officers chased the van that was eventually stopped on Warner Road, just east of Arizona Avenue in Chandler. The two occupants of the car were detained.
News video showed the officers pulling the 23 immigrants out of the van one-by-one and having them initially lay side-by-side on the road.
Lincoln said the driver of the van is a U.S. citizen, and that she could face charges of human smuggling and possession of a stolen vehicle.
A total of 25 people between the two vehicles are now in custody.