It is hard to beleive but it looks like maricopa county attorney andrew thomas is a bigger nazi then sheriff joe!!!!

54 jailed under 'coyote' statute

Lindsey Collom The Arizona Republic Mar. 3, 2006 12:00 AM

Maricopa County Sheriff's deputies jailed 54 people Thursday on suspicion of conspiring with a "coyote," or human smuggler, to sneak them into the United States.

It was the first time local authorities have applied a new Arizona statue on human smuggling to immigrants.

The law, enacted in August, gave the state's prosecutors a way to go after coyotes. But it was unclear whether the people being smuggled would be treated as victims or as partners in crime.

It didn't take long for Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas to issue his opinion: Undocumented migrants can be prosecuted as co-conspirators if they pay a coyote for transport. Thomas got his chance to test his interpretation on Thursday.

"The bottom line is Arizona has a tremendous problem with illegal immigration," Thomas said. "Look, if you're going to enter Maricopa County and try to commit a felony, you're going to jail and you're going to be prosecuted."

Thomas' interpretation, issued in September, makes it possible to charge undocumented immigrants with a felony punishable by up to 2?years in prison.

But not everyone buys into that theory.

Margarita Silva, a criminal defense attorney and president of Los Abogados, a Hispanic law group, said she was surprised the "pollos," or immigrants, were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy.

"I can't imagine somebody won't challenge that," she said.

Authorities on Thursday said investigators seized evidence and obtained confessions that the group had paid one or more coyotes to smuggle them in a pair of furniture trucks with Sonora, Mexico, plates.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio likened the relationship between a coyote and a person being smuggled to that of a dealer and user.

"If the customer pays a dope peddler money, he's violated the law," Arpaio said. "(Here), they're paying for transport."

A sheriff's deputy stopped the furniture trucks for erratic driving about 3:30 p.m. near the western edge of Maricopa County. Rufinda Guzman, 33, was one of four women who met up with the truck drivers in San Luis, Mexico. She said through an interpreter that the drivers offered to take them across the border, but she claimed they were not coyotes. She was confused over the arrest.

Silva said that in some cases, the immigrants might actually be victims if they are being held against their will.

"I think it will be incredibly hard for the government to prove the case against the pollos . . . when you consider they are the prime witnesses against the coyotes," Silva added.

Once they become co-conspirators or co-defenders, they would have to incriminate themselves to testify against the coyotes and might weaken the case against the smugglers, Silva said.

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