County Attorney Andrew Thomas’s office noted its 500th prosecution under the state’s anti-smuggling statute on Sunday.
The statue, which is unique to the Maricopa County Sherriff’s Office, holds human cargo accountable on charges of conspiring to be smuggled into the United States, a class four felony.
The statute has been effective since March 2006, and has reached its 500th milestone on November 19 with the sentencing of Sergio Armando Rodriguez-Lopez.
“This office will continue to prosecute all defendants who violate Arizona’s human smuggling statute,” said County Attorney Thomas in a prepared statement. “Illegal immigrants are not above the law.”
In effect, the County Attorney set up a “no amnesty” policy towards illegal immigration with the human smuggling statute.
By pleading guilty to the felony, the defendant’s chance of re-entering the country legally or becoming a U.S. citizen diminishes greatly.
“My message is, we welcome immigrants into the United States. But if you wish to immigrate to this country, you must do it the right way by complying with our laws,” said Thomas.