The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office has launched its 13th immigration and crime sweep and reported 27 arrests by the evening of Nov. 16. Officials say 18 of the people in custody are suspected of being illegal immigrants with the other nine arrested on various charges.
Some 200 deputies and posse members are taking part in the two-day sweep with helicopters being used to help ground crews find smuggling vehicles.
The sheriff’s sweeps in some heavily Latino areas of metro Phoenix have drawn criticism that Arpaio’s deputies racially profile people.
Arpaio says people pulled over in the sweeps were approached because deputies had probable cause to believe they had committed crimes and that it was only afterward that deputies found many of them were illegal immigrants.
The sheriff’s office recently lost its power to make federal immigration arrests, but continues to focus on illegal immigration by enforcing a state immigrant smuggling law.