In what appears to be two unrelated incidents, two carfuls of illegal immigrants were discovered by deputies last Tuesday on Highway 87 at the exact same location, several hours apart.
The first stop happened around 3:30 p.m., when Gila County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Dennis Newman spotted a Kia Sportage with illegal window tinting a mile south of Payson heading northbound into town on Highway 87.
When Newman approached the compact car, he noticed eight adults crammed inside. The driver indicated they were heading to Tulsa, Okla. for work.
Newman asked the driver for a driver’s license and he produced a Mexico identification card. The passengers, six men and two women, had Mexican voter identification cards.
Newman asked if they were in the country legally and they all said no.
All were handed over to federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials.
Seven hours later, around 10:30 p.m., Deputy Matt Havey, stopped another car in nearly the same location on a routine traffic stop. Havey discovered 11 illegal immigrants inside and all were handed over to ICE.
Over the years, Newman has handed dozens of illegal immigrants over to ICE.
In late February, he stopped a vehicle heading into town on a routine traffic violation. Several illegal immigrants fled from the scene and five were eventually captured and handed over to ICE.
Newman, a member of the narcotics task force, said he doesn’t go out seeking illegal immigrants.
“I wish I could find dope like I find illegal immigrants,” he said. “I am really out there looking for narcotics.”
However, when he comes across illegal immigrants, he always takes them into custody and notifies ICE.