A homicide Wednesday in Mesa appears to be related to human smuggling, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Friday.
Mesa police and ICE are working together to solve the case, but investigators still don’t know the name of the victim, a Hispanic man estimated to be 25 years old.
ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice said it appears the case may have involved someone trying to poach clients of a human smuggler.
A Mesa patrol officer was in the area of the 900 block of South Mesa Drive to investigate a call of unknown trouble at 1:30 a.m. Wednesday.
A witness flagged down the officer and directed him to 948 S. Mesa Drive, where he found the victim dead and with a gunshot wound.
Police say the residence appeared to be a drop house. Drop houses are where groups of smuggled people stay before the next leg of the voyage.
“We’re still investigating what the exact motive was,” said officer Diana Tapia, Mesa police spokeswoman.
Kice said there are groups that specialize in poaching clients of human smugglers and holding them for ransom.
Kice said the tactic allows them to get money without having to go through the trouble and expense of smuggling people from Mexico.