5/25/2013 1:58:00 PM
Verde Independent

NEAR CAMP VERDE - A Yavapai County sheriff's deputy who stopped a van for weaving on Interstate 17 discovered the driver allegedly was smuggling nine illegal aliens from Mexico into the United States, a sheriff's spokesman said.

Ricardo Albazan, 26, was northbound, north of the Highway 260 exit when he was stopped Monday at about 4 a.m., said spokesman Dwight D'Evelyn, and Albazan had only a Mexican ID card.

He told the deputy he was headed to Denver, D'Evelyn said. He also admitted that none of his passengers had documentation, and the deputy concluded that Albazan was transporting illegals.

The deputy called an agent from Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, who agreed with his assessment, and a jail van was sent to the scene. Before it could arrive, two of the passengers ran from the deputy and escaped into the darkness, D'Evelyn said.

More law enforcement arrived, but they could not locate the two who ran.

The remaining suspects were taken to the Camp Verde jail to wait for ICE to take custody. Albazan was found to have nearly $1,400 on him, and he was identified as the "coyote" in the operation, D'Evelyn said.

ICE will be handling the prosecution of the case.