By AMANDA LEE MYERS, Associated Press Writer
Thu May 11, 4:30 PM ET
AVONDALE, Ariz. - Following a week of tough talk, a 250-member sheriff's posse that was assembled to catch illegal immigrants made just one arrest in its first desert search early Thursday.
The posse — made up of Maricopa County sheriff's deputies and trained volunteers — launched night patrols Wednesday in the desert and along major roads southwest of Phoenix.
Deputies attempted to pull over a pickup truck about 12:45 a.m. Thursday, but the truck took off in the desert and its 15 to 20 occupants scattered. Only one person was tracked down, despite night-vision equipment, spotlights and a helicopter.
"It just makes me angry," Sheriff Joe Arpaio said. "People say these are helpless people coming into the United States just to work, and yet when they see law enforcement, they run. If they were trying to obey the law, why are they running?"
Arpaio speculated that the night was slow because potential border crossers have heard about that the county is cracking down. He said the operation will continue.
Arpaio's posse is looking to arrest illegal immigrants under a new state law that allows local law enforcement to arrest and charge immigrant-smugglers with felonies. Sheriff's officials already have arrested 147 illegal immigrants and smugglers under the law.
A human-rights group is challenging County Attorney Andrew Thomas' contention that the law applies to illegal immigrants as well as immigrant smugglers.
-Nothing like a highly trained posse to bring justice and curb lawlessness in the wild wild west.
at May 11, 2006
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