July 30, 2009 / 9:16 PM / 10 years ago

Arizona cops find 97 migrants in refrigerated truck

PHOENIX (Reuters) - Arizona police pulled over a refrigerated truck and found 97 illegal immigrants in the back among near-freezing produce, police said on Thursday.

The officer stopped the truck on a highway a few miles (km) north of the border city of Nogales late on Wednesday, the Arizona Department of Public Safety said.

An inspection found 97 adults and children from Mexico and Guatemala crammed into the trailer, which was heavily chilled to one degree Celsius (34 Fahrenheit).

No one was harmed. The immigrants were handed over to Border Patrol agents, who processed them for deportation.

“These people were treated like cargo. They were crammed inside this truck and subjected to near freezing temperatures,” said Matthew Allen, the special agent in charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency investigations in Arizona.

“Fortunately, due to the swift action of the law enforcement agencies involved in this case, none of these people came to any harm,” he added.

Arizona straddles the principal route for smuggling illegal immigrants and drugs from Mexico.

Last year border police caught 724,000 people crossing the border from Mexico, the lowest total since the mid 1970s.

Reporting by Tim Gaynor, Editing by Sandra Maler

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