PHOENIX – Arizona authorities on Sunday found 53 illegal immigrants in a Phoenix home being held against their will by suspected smugglers demanding more money for their release.
The group of rescued immigrants included two 13-year-old girls and a mentally disabled man. There were three women, and the rest were men, said Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman Harold Sanders.
Sanders said the investigation began Saturday after authorities received information that the immigrants were being held with force against their will, and that smugglers wanted an average of $2,500 for each person.
The investigation led to the arrest of three suspected smugglers at a Phoenix hotel.
After detectives learned the location of the immigrants in a southwest Phoenix home, they found the 53 immigrants and arrested two more suspected smugglers.
Sanders said the single-family home had been fortified to prevent escape. Several firearms were seized at the home.
Authorities arrested Jesus Nunez, 18, Yolanda Martinez-Garcia, 21, Anil Solis-Romero, 23, Porfirio Felix-Reyes, 25, and Vianney Terron, 22, on charges of extortion, kidnapping, aggravated assault and human smuggling.
Sanders said the five were all residents of Mexico and were to be booked into Maricopa County jail.
The rescued immigrants were turned over to U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement.