NOGALES, Sonora, Mex. (KGUN9-TV) - The discovery of a secret stash house just across the border with Mexico leads to an eye-opening revelation. KGUN9 found something catching law enforcement off guard: a possible spike in people from India trying to enter Arizona illegally.
It all started at a white house in Nogales, Sonora, one mile from the U.S.-Mexico border. This week Mexican federal police rescued 58 men and women -- migrants they say had been kidnapped and held in that house. The precise reason for the suspected kidnappings and if a cartel was involved is unclear.
“You’re always going to see this,” said Elizabeth Estrella, in Spanish. She lives near the stash house and said people will do anything to pursue their dream to come to the U.S.
But some couldn’t have imagined this happening here like this.
“It hadn't happened before, that I know of,” said Sheriff Tony Estrada of Santa Cruz County. “Those are large numbers, and the method that they used obviously wasn't a method that had been applied in Nogales, Sonora.”
Estrada suspected and a lot of evidence suggested the migrants had hired a smuggler to get them into the U.S.
In this case, the two-decade border sheriff said, “The numbers are compelling.”
An eye-opening fact lies in those numbers. Fifty-one of the migrants are from Guatemala, the Associated Press reported. One is El Salvador and six from India.
“The numbers from India are surprising,” Estrada said.
Just this week, 24 other Indian nationals stayed in his Santa Cruz County Jail. Federal agencies had detained the group, but Estrada doesn’t know the details of the detentions.
“That's a number that we've never seen before,” he said. “We've seen a couple here maybe."
There have been even more recent cases of Indians being arrested or detained in the area.
Nationally, Department of Homeland Security statistics also showed an 87 percent increase in apprehensions of Indians from 2009 to 2010, and a 79 percent increase from 2010 to 2011.
Estrada doesn't know exactly what's behind all this or if there's even a local trend.
“It possibly may have something to do with immigration reform,” he said. “The possibility that they feel that there's a chance -- there's a glimmer of hope that they will be included somehow.”
For that reason, he expected an increase in illegal crossing attempts in the weeks to come.
KGUN9 asked Customs and Border Protection if it's noticed an increase or a trend in the presence of Indians along the Tucson sector border. KGUN9 sent that request late in the afternoon, and CBP could respond Friday.