3 Illegal Immigrant Stash Houses Busted in Southern Arizona - Tucson News Now

3 Illegal Immigrant Stash Houses Busted in Southern Arizona

Mark Stine KOLD News 13 Reporter

Stash houses aren't new, but smugglers are under new pressure.

This after at least three stash houses have been found in Southern Arizona in the past week.

It's usually a peaceful and quiet Rio Rico neighborhood. That's why residents were caught off guard wednesday when border patrol agents showed up and busted an illegal immigrant stash house next door.

"I don't see nothing right there. This is my surprise right now," Roberto Villegas told KOLD.

Maria Lopez has lived in the neighborhood for 13 years. She told us she thought a family was living next door, not illegal immigrants.

Border Patrol agents say they aren't necessarily seeing more stash houses, but they are seeing more illegal immigrants forced to stay in homes like this one for longer periods of time.

Agent Robert Bushell explained, "We can attribute that to enforcement efforts and our checkpoint on I-19 which forces the smugglers to keep their cargo of people longer."

Since October of last year, Nogales Border Patrol agents have found 55 stash houses and arrested more than 750 illegal immigrants from those homes.

"In a lot of occassions there's way too many people in a space that's way to small for that many people."

Bushell said that many people in a small space in Southern Arizona presents a risk to the immigrants well-being. "As we get into the summer months with the heat and a lot of those houses are not even occupied, normally so they don't have air conditioners and stuff like that - that make for a pretty significant health hazard."

Back in the quiet Rio Rico neighborhood with the now empty stash house, Christian Lopez, Maria's young son even recognizes how desperate and dangerous the human smuggling has become.

"They could be living a happy life when they are in Mexico and they take them here and sometimes like they just leave them to die."

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