Border Jumpers, Human Smugglers Captured – Cause Auto Wrecks
Drivers gawking at a group of 15 handcuffed illegal entrant suspects along the side of Interstate 10 on Monday morning caused three car crashes that shut down travel for about an hour near Downtown.
The rubbernecking mishaps happened after several U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents made a high-risk traffic stop on westbound I-10 near the Miracle Mile exit, just before 10 a.m., said Officer James Oien, an Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman.
While not often initiated in such a visible location, high-risk stops are made when agents or officers suspect there is a potential for violence, Oien said.
"They were being extremely cautious," he said. "If you've got some felons going down the interstate and the only place you can stop them is Grant Road, you do what you gotta do."
The federal agents are part of an anti-smuggling team and had tracked and stopped a stolen pickup truck carrying a group of suspected illegal entrants, said Russell Ahr, an ICE spokesman in Phoenix.
One of the men was separated from the others at the scene, but Ahr didn't have more details about whether he was a suspected people-smuggler or whether charges were pressed.
The incident is still under investigation, he said.
After agents and officers handcuffed the suspected illegal entrants, the group sat on a dirt shoulder in the sun. They had been riding in the cab of the silver pickup while others were hidden under a piece of plywood that covered the bed.
Besides the people who were detained, about a dozen law enforcement vehicles were on the scene with their lights flashing, drawing the attention of morning motorists.
Traffic backed up for several miles and, in less than an hour, two landscaping trucks and a motor home rear-ended cars in three separate crashes. The two trucks spun sideways and blocked the westbound lanes of I-10 near the Grant Road exit, Oien said.
Two of the rear-end crashes involved injuries that were not life-threatening, Oien said. No one was injured in the third incident. None of the drivers' names was released.
"The causes of the accidents were people not paying attention to what they were doing and paying attention to what the cops were doing," Oien said.
DPS officers established a detour so traffic could be diverted to city streets for about an hour until the crashes could be investigated and cleaned up, he said.
Motorists should concentrate on their own driving and traffic around them to avoid accidents, Oien said.
"Try to resist the rubbernecking or gawking at the scene and pay attention," he said.
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