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12:57 PM Thu, Dec. 13th

Havasu man faces smuggling charge

19-year-old was arrested Monday following a traffic stop

KINGMAN - Deputies with the Mohave County Sheriff's Office arrested a Lake Havasu City resident for allegedly smuggling illegal immigrants.

Antonio Malagon, 19, was arrested on the charge of smuggling human beings for commercial purpose, a Class 4 felony, on Monday following a traffic stop at Highway 95 and Boundary Cone Road. He was transported and booked into jail without incident.

According to a news release from MCSO, deputies conducted the traffic stop around 11:45 a.m. The deputies contacted the eight occupants in the vehicle and determined that five of them were illegal immigrants. Immigration and Customs Enforcement assisted at the scene.

According to MCSO Public Information Specialist Trish Carter, it's normal procedure to ask individuals for identification during traffic stops. She added in this situation most of the individuals did not have identification, and being Hispanic, ICE was called to determine legal residency.

"It's their job to determine that," Carter said.

Richard Rocha, a spokesman with ICE, said that all ICE agents and officers are trained on how to determine residency of individuals they question.

The five subjects, who were not identified by MCSO or ICE, were transported to the Mohave County District II Substation where Border Patrol Agents were contacted. Border Patrol took the subjects into custody. The men were working for Stucco Masters, a stucco contractor out of Lake Havasu City.

Employer information was provided to ICE agents for follow-up.

Rocha said he wasn't familiar with this specific case, but added that worksite enforcement has become a focus in regards to the use of illegal immigrants.

Jim Hinjosa, owner of Stucco Masters, confirmed that four of the individuals who were arrested had been working at his business for the last year and a half.

Hinjosa added that the employees provided Social Security cards, permanent resident cards and driver's licenses as documentation of their residency before they were hired.

"We're surprised just as much as anyone else," Hinjosa said.

"It's never happened before."

Hinjosa said he is trying to figure out what happened in regards to the arrest and what information ICE used to determine his employees' residency.