An Arizona freeway shooting involving feuding immigrant smugglers left four dead scattered across an interstate highway median, sent helicopters searching for immigrants who fled into the desert, and created a nine-hour traffic bottleneck, the Arizona Republic reports.
Authorities called the incident “a rolling gunfight” and sought federal help to curb a trend of violent attacks involving immigrant smugglers. “This appears to be a load of undocumented aliens that was being hijacked or kidnapped from another group of smugglers,” Pinal County Sheriff Roger Vanderpool said. “It was clearly retaliation and to send a message.” He added, “They were really bold and really brazen to drive on the interstate and start shooting individuals. We need help from the federal government.”
The shooting occurred on the same day that Mexican President Vicente Fox visited Phoenix to discuss, among other topics, the trafficking in undocumented immigrants from Mexico.
None of the suspects or the dead was identified by late Tuesday. Three of the five wounded remained hospitalized Tuesday night. “One of our agents found a guy with his toe blown off, his toe still in his hand,” said Kyle Barnett of the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He said highway hijacking aimed at smugglers and immigrants has become “a disturbing trend.” Tactics used in the drug trade are being used in human trafficking. A local group recently received a $1 million federal grant to launch the Arizona League to End Regional Trafficking.