SOUTHLAND : Suspected Alien Smugglers Seized

From Times staff and wire service reports

Federal immigration officials today announced the arrests of four suspected smugglers of illegal aliens and the detention of 21 aliens discovered at a South-Central Los Angeles drop house, claiming that the smuggling operation was responsible for transporting hundreds of immigrants by air to New York, Chicago and Miami in recent weeks.

Describing the ring as “one of the nation’s largest and most sophisticated alien smuggling operations,” Harold Ezell, U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service western regional commissioner, said Tuesday’s arrests will be followed soon by more arrests of “the principals” of the group in New York.

INS officials suspect that the arrests of 435 undocumented aliens at Southern California airports over the past 10 days indicate a major shift of alien smuggling operations from south Texas, where the agency has cracked down on a flood of immigrants from Central America. Officials also said they believed that several groups smuggling illegals through Los Angeles airports may be pooling resources and money.