PHOENIX (AP) — Federal authorities said Wednesday they found around 65 immigrants suspected of being in the country illegally while serving drug-related search warrants at two Phoenix-area homes.

The DEA says about 50 people were arrested at home in west Phoenix while a law enforcement task force that includes the Border Patrol executed a search warrant. Another 10 to 15 people were also taken into custody at a home in Chandler.

Smuggling organizations often hold large groups of immigrants in houses temporarily, sometimes against their will, then get them to their intended destination. Known as “drop houses," the locations often have squalid conditions and force immigrants into cramped and unsafe spaces.

“These transnational criminal organizations, they're addicted to U.S. money so they’ll make profit off of anything. If they can sell drugs they’ll do it, if they can smuggle human beings they’ll do that as well,” said Bill Czopek, a DEA spokesman. “These criminal organizations are not one dimensional. They're very complex, sophisticated, money-making organizations.”

Czopek said the investigation is ongoing and he couldn't say whether any drugs were also found in the home.

Footage taken by local TV station shows several dozen people sitting in an alleyway outside a home in west Phoenix. Police have not said what led to the investigation or whether other suspects were arrested.

The task force is composed of police from federal and local law enforcement agencies.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.


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