By Grant Francis The Arizona Republic-12 News Breaking News Team
Fri Jan 4, 2013 5:51 PM

Sheriff’s deputies found a 3-year-old girl in a van with human smugglers, officials said Friday.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said in a press release that his Human Smuggling Unit stopped the van on the Interstate 17 freeway in Phoenix and found seven undocumented men and women and the young child.

Five of the adults were taken to the Fourth Avenue jail in downtown Phoenix on suspicion of felony human smuggling charge. Two were turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to the release.

Officials suspect the child is the daughter of one of the van’s occupants, deputies said. The child’s present location is not clear.

Arpaio said this is the fifth time recently that deputies found a child in a vehicle used for human smuggling.

According to the driver and passengers, the van was headed for California after crossing the border near Altar, Mexico.