Authorities in Maricopa County say 11 illegal immigrants have been arrested as part of an ongoing 30-day operation aimed at human smuggling.
Sheriff Joe Arpaio says nine suspects have been booked into jail on human smuggling charges. Two others were turned over to federal authorities.
The arrests were made this week after sheriff's deputies pulled over a pickup truck in the southeast valley. They found 10 illegal immigrants in the back covered with a tarp. A passenger fled the scene and escaped.
Authorities say the suspects admitted to paying up to $4,000 each to be smuggled into the U.S. Their destinations were Florida, New York, North Carolina, Atlanta, California, Kentucky and Phoenix.
Two in the group admitted they were from Guatemala and the rest of the group said they were from Mexico. According to MCSO, they all crossed the border illegally through Altar.
Arpaio says the main suspect has an extensive criminal history in the U.S. and has previously been deported four times.
"The entry into Maricopa County by illegal aliens continues to increase despite the numerous arrests made by my deputies. My deputies will continue to investigate human smugglers in Maricopa County," said Arpaio.
Deputies have arrested 53 illegal immigrants during the 30-day operation. To date, MCSO has arrested over 5,759 illegal aliens involved in human smuggling.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.