Residents warned to stay vigilant as cases of human smuggling in Cochise County continue

Residents warned to stay vigilant as cases of human smuggling in Cochise County continue
Published: Sep. 28, 2023 at 8:16 AM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - With street releases and human smuggling continuing in Cochise County, the sheriff’s office is reminding people to stay vigilant.

In less than 36 hours in the Elfrida area, two different human smuggling incidents ended with people running into the community.

“We got a text message saying to lock your doors that there was two incidents that happened.” said Casey Riesgo, an Elfrida resident. “Anyone here in the Elfrida area needed to just be cautious and make sure you had your doors locked, and if you see anything say something.”

Riesgo has lived in Elfrida for five years. She said this is not a new problem but one that is occurring more often.

“It is scary because there is a lot of them at one time, you don’t know what they are here for, most of the time they are just people looking for a better life,” said Riesgo. “But with so much of it coming through nowadays we don’t know which ones are the good ones and which are the bad ones coming over.”

Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels said human smuggling now mixed with the street releases has become a big concern for residents. He adds it is important he remain transparent with the community through these alerts.

“It’s not always satisfying to tell people that we’re chasing people through neighborhoods. We had a smuggler driver that tried to run over one of my deputies last night. I mean, it’s not fun stuff to put out but it’s factual. It’s real. It’s real to my own deputies. It’s also real to the community. Let’s share it together,” said Dannels.

These alerts are a reminder to the community to stay vigilant.

“The street releases, we obviously want the people to know about that sort of visually, if they see people standing around they know what’s going on.” said Dannels. “But more important to me is the public safety side of it. So we want to make sure that people know when they see emergency lights, you see a bunch of cops coming together, what critical that people know what’s going on.”

Some steps people can take to keep your property safe include locking your door and windows and removing valuables from inside your car.

“One thing we’ve asked the public is, if you see something, say something call 911. Let us get involved,” said Dannels.

The sheriff also reminds people to sign-up for Alert Sense. This keeps residents updated on the latest incidents in the area. To sign up visit the Cochise County website here.

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