A drop house is where human smugglers, otherwise known as coyotes, cram as many as fifty illegal aliens into one place, quite often a one bedroom apartment or home.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested 50 illegal aliens yesterday, at a drop house in Avondale, Arizona, bringing the total over the last seven days to over 600 illegals arrested in the Phoenix area.
As Katrina S. Kane, field office director of the ICE office of detention and removal operations in Arizona, said, "These arrests send a clear message to human smugglers that it is no longer business as usual in Phoenix", she further adds, "We have built a strong team to combat human smuggling in Arizona, and we are now seeing the results of these efforts."
She says this past week has been exceptionally busy although this is the time of year they do see an increase in illegal alien traffic in Arizona, but that the cooperative efforts between ICE and the law enforcement offices around the state, is making it it very difficult for the human smugglers to avoid detection in the Phoenix area.
Officials point out that nearly every day last week a significant amount of illegal aliens were arrested.
Some of those arrests include March 9, 2008- 40 illegal aliens were discovered in a drop house in Black Canyon City, by the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office.
March 8, 2008- 82 illegal aliens were discovered in a drop house by Avondale Police Department.
March 7, 2008- 43 illegal aliens were arrested at a drop house in phoenix.
March 6, 2008- 34 illegal aliens were arrested at two traffic stops north of the valley and 38 more were discovered by the Phoenix Police Department, at another drop house.
March 5, 2008- 59 illegals were arrested at a drop house in Glendale and 24 at a drop house in Mesa.
Today the announcement came that across the country, in West Virginia, eight people were indicted by a Grand Jury for conspiring to violate federal immigration laws, aggravated identity fraud, and conspiring to commit identity fraud.
ICE officials had uncovered a multi-state conspiracy to distribute identification cards to illegal aliens in West Virginia and elsewhere.
The Grand Jury returned a three-count indictment charging Edwin Roberto Mendez, 32, of Harrisonburg, Va., Christina Dawn Cheatham, 23, of Columbus, Ohio, Jose Antonio Gutierrez-Ramirez, 34, of Columbus, Ohio, Nekeia Mack-Fuller, 29, of Reynoldsburg, Ohio, Luis M. Rosado-Rodriguez, 29, of Ponce, Puerto Rico, Jairo Gomez, 32, of Harrisonburg, Va., Juan (last name unknown), date of birth unknown, of Harrisonburg, and Michelle Eckerman, 27, of Canal Winchester, Ohio. All have been indicted by a federal grand jury sitting in Roanoke, Va., on charges related to the operation of a counterfeit identification ring.
If those indicted are convicted, the maximum penalty faced by these individuals will be as follows:
-Gomez: 22 years imprisonment and/or a fine of $500,000.
-Juan (Last name unknown): 22 years imprisonment and/or a fine of $500,000.
-Mendez: 22 years imprisonment and/or a fine of $500,000.
-Gutierrez-Ramirez: 22 years imprisonment and/or a fine of $500,000.
-Rosado-Rodriguez: 22 years imprisonment and/or a fine of $500,000.
-Cheatham: 20 years imprisonment and/or a fine of $500,000.
-Eckerman: 20 years imprisonment and/or a fine of $500,000.
-Mack-Fuller: 20 years imprisonment and/or a fine of $500,000.
The charges against these eight individual range from conspiracy to aggravated ID fraud and identity fraud conspiracy.
U.S. Attorney John Brownlee says, "Enforcing our nation's immigration laws is one of our highest priorities. Had this conspiracy not been stopped, many more illegal aliens would have obtained identification papers, making it extremely difficult for law enforcement to identify and deport them. In addition, these enforcement programs are necessary to protect our borders from illegal entry. These enforcement efforts are intended to guarantee that critical points of entry, such as airports, are not breeched by those who wish to do harm to law-abiding citizens of the United States."
Virginia Attorney general Bob McDonnell states, "We are a nation of laws and those laws must be obeyed. Document fraud is one among many crimes contributing to the nationwide problem of illegal immigration."
Some would claim that illegal immigration is a "victimless" crime, that no one is really harmed by immigrants entering America illegally and Deputy Special Agent in Charge for ICE Washington D.C. Field office, Mark McGraw, contradicts that argument clearly, by asserting, "This is not a victimless crime. The individuals whose identities are stolen will spend their time and expense unraveling the fraud perpetrated in their names. The nation is more vulnerable when identities are bought and sold."
From Ohio to West Virginia and Texas to Arizona, ICE in conjunction with local authorities all across the country are stepping up their efforts to crack down on human smugglers and to arrest and deport illegal aliens.