Immigration officials arrested 52 illegal immigrants Sunday night as they were waiting with plane tickets at a South-Central Los Angeles “drop house,” apparently unable to board flights because of a federal crackdown on alien smuggling, authorities said.
The action brought to nearly 90 the number of arrests late Saturday and Sunday as the Immigration and Naturalization Service tried to halt the smuggling of illegals on the nation’s airlines.
Los Angeles Police Lt. Roger Fox said officers went to the home in the 1000 block of East 34th Street at about 8 p.m., after receiving an anonymous tip from a caller in Brazil who alleged that a diabetic woman was being held there against her will and denied insulin.
The report turned out to be false, Fox said. But officers discovered the large group of aliens--all adults, mostly from Brazil--and called the INS.
Fox said the aliens held tickets to various destinations in the United States--including Chicago, New York and St. Louis.
The aliens offered no resistance, Fox said. Police said they would be taken to INS detention facilities in downtown Los Angeles.
Immigration officials estimate that there are between 30 and 40 drop houses in the Los Angeles area.
“We’re looking for all the drop houses in Los Angeles, so we can put the local end of the operation out of business,” said John Brechtel, assistant INS director for investigations.
Late Saturday and early Sunday, INS agents arrested 37 more suspected illegals at Los Angeles and Ontario airports, including two suspected smugglers.