Two killed in Eloy ambush near smuggling route
Police are looking for several gunmen who opened fire Sunday night near Eloy on a pickup truck loaded with immigrants who officials suspect are in the country illegally. Two of the migrants were killed.
Police don't know why the gunmen opened fire on the pickup, but the shooting happened in an area commonly used by human smugglers, said Dawn M. Barkman, a spokeswoman for the Pima County Sheriff's Department.
April 9, 2012
Daniel Gonzalez & J. Craig Anderson
In the past, gangs known as bajadores, or rip-off crews, have ambushed groups of illegal immigrants that have just been smuggled across the border in order to hold them for ransom or extort money from them.
Barkman said "every possibility is being investigated."
She said 20 to 30 migrants were inside the pickup when it was ambushed in a wash on the southern edge of Eloy by several men wearing camouflage clothing. They were armed with rifles.
Police and Border Patrol agents responded about 10:35p.m. Sunday, she said.
They found one of the victims inside the bed of the pickup. The other was found in a nearby wash, Barkman said.
No information about the dead has been released.
Barkman said the other migrants in the pickup ran into the desert. Five were located hiding in the brush nearby. They were interviewed by homicide detectives and turned over to the Border Patrol, she said.
The others have not been found, she said.
The shooting occurred south of West Antares Drive near the border of Pinal and Pima counties.
In January 2007, four men wearing camouflage and berets and armed with an assault weapon killed a smuggling suspect and wounded another person after ambushing a vehicle in a field about 40miles north of Eloy.
And in March 2007, gunmen wearing dark clothing ambushed a vehicle loaded with more than 20 illegal immigrants near Green Valley, south of Tucson, killing two people. Two men from Mexico were arrested following that shooting, Barkman said. A third suspect still hasn't been found, she said.
Border Patrol agents from Casa Grande responded to the shooting along with officers from Eloy and Coolidge.