Anyone in Arizona who turns to forgery to rent or buy a home that they plan to use to temporarily house smuggled immigrants now can face up to seven years in jail, under a new law signed by Gov. Jan Brewer.
The law makes it a felony to use forgery to rent or buy a home to be used as an immigrant-smuggling "drop house."
Drop houses are homes, apartments or motel rooms where immigrant smugglers hide their customers after they have crossed the border but before they are sent to destinations across the United States.
Police have discovered numerous drop houses in metropolitan Phoenix in recent years.
The city is the nation's busiest hub for immigrant smuggling. The measure, which Brewer signed on Monday, takes effect on July 20.
Earlier this month, the Maricopa County Sheriff deputies arrested 38 suspected undocumented immigrants in the busts of two drop houses in Phoenix.
Sheriff spokesmen said 16 suspected undocumented immigrants were taken into custody in the first wave of arrests.
Deputies detained 15 more at another drop house where some of the people barricaded themselves inside. The sheriff's SWAT team was called out to assist, and seven people were arrested. Authorities said some of the 38 in custody possibly were human smugglers.
And in March, 11 people – three of them possibly smugglers – were found inside another drop house in the city. The Arizona Department of Public Safety said one of the suspected undocumented immigrants was apparently beaten for money.
This is based on a story by The Associated Press.