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If the pro immigration bill people needed some ammunition, they just got it with this report of a deputy being shot by what he called an undocumented immigrant.

Breaking news on my local channel just reported that the shot deputy has been found and they are hunting for three people in connection with the shooting.

I will update as more news becomes available.

Apr 30, 8:43 PM EDT

Authorities seek wounded Arizona deputy in desert

CASA GRANDE, Ariz. (AP) -- Authorities in southern Arizona are searching for a deputy who radioed for help and said he had been shot with an AK-47 assault rifle in a remote desert area. Pinal County Sheriff's Lt. Tammy Villar says the deputy called in Friday

to say he had encountered a group and been shot in the abdomen.

Sheriff Joe was just interviewed:  (I'm paraphrasing here) he said
it is a drug traffic area and of course you know that oftentimes drug trafficing and illegal immigration go together.

The area is used by drug- and human-smugglers from Mexico.

However, the circumstances that led to the shooting are unclear. Pinal County Sheriff's deputy was shot in the stomach Friday after a traffic stop on Interstate 8, according sheriff's officials.

Authorities said the deputy radioed into dispatch that he was shot by a suspected undocumented immigrant. At least two suspects were being sought.

Deputies were also searching for the deputy. His condition is unknown.

The deputy apparently pulled over a vehicle on Interstate 8 near Arizona 84 -- roughly 70 miles south of the central Phoenix -- at about 4:30 p.m. Friday.

When the deputy approached the vehicle, he was shot in the stomach, said Lt. Tamatha Villar, spokesperson for the Pinal County Sheriff's Office.

UPDATE:  The sheriff's deputy has been located, taken to hospital in Casa Grande and will be alright.

Deputy now saying that there were five people carrying a couple "long" guns.

UPDATE:  AZcentral has added this to their site

The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office dispatched a helicopter and members of its SWAT team to Pinal County to assist in the case, said MCSO Lt. Brian Lee. Lee said at 5:45 p.m. there were reports over the police scanner that suspects were shooting at a police helicopter. Lee did not know which agency was operating the helicopter.

The Border Patrol has sent agents to assist the Pinal County Sheriff's Office with the investigation, said Mario Escalante, a Border Patrol spokesman assigned to the Tucson sector.

Local ABC channel

Villar said the deputy was working alone in the search for undocumented immigrants when he stopped five suspects southwest of Casa Grande, near Interstate 8 and Arizona 84.

One of the suspects reportedly pulled out an AK47 assault rifle, shooting the deputy in the abdomen.

The suspects apparently then took off with a "load of marijuana," and remain on the loose right now.

UPDATE:  Now I'm getting a little confused.  The dispatcher told commentators at AZcentral that the suspects took off on foot.
If you read last blockquote, ABC says they took off with a load of marijuana.  How big is a load of marijuana?

This from AZcentral again:

Lt. Tami Villar told 12 News that the search and rescue deputy was investigating a load of marijuana in the desert and was confronted by five suspects.

This makes it sound as if he found their stash first?...I report, you decide!

Aha, CBS has this up:

Villar says the deputy was doing smuggling interdiction work and found bales of marijuana in the desert. He then encountered five suspected illegal immigrants, two armed with rifles, and was shot.

UPDATE:  more from

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio was headed to Pinal County to assist in the investigation, Lee said. About 70 MCSO employees were responding to the scene. Lee said most were involved in a crime suppression sweep in the Maryvale area.

Shortly after the shooting, Pinal County also requested assistance from the Arizona Department of Public Safety, which responded with two helicopters and a SWAT team.

UPDATE...more from the AP

"He was out on his routine daily patrol in the area when he encountered a load of marijuana out in the desert. He obviously confronted the individuals and took fire," Villar told The Associated Press. "I was speaking with him just a bit ago, and he's doing fantastic."

The deputy was alone about five miles from a rest stop along Interstate 8, about halfway between Phoenix and Tucson. The area is a well-known smuggling corridor for drugs and illegal immigrants headed from Mexico to Phoenix and the U.S. interior.

"Over the past 12 months we've seen an increase in the amount of drugs, and an increase in violence that has been going on in this particular corridor," Villar told KPNX.

"We've had increasing concerns in this area about being outmanned and outgunned, and unfortunately this evening, this is coming true," he said.

UPDATE:  AZcentral has updated their story with this:

Villar said the suspects were armed with long guns and at least one handgun. She said gunfire with helicopters came about an hour after the initial incident. An unknown amount of marijuana apparently handled by the shooters remained in the desert.

UPDATE:  AZcentral addition to their article

"Our thoughts & prayers go out to the Pinal County Deputy shot during a stop," Gov. Jan Brewer sent out in a Twitter message on the Internet Friday evening. "Contrary to what some leaders say, our borders are not secure."

UPDATE...CNN has a startling fact in their article... CNN..

Pinal County is between Phoenix and Tucson and has been described as a key transit point for illegal immigrants and drug traffickers. Sheriff Paul Babeu said an estimated 80 percent of illegal immigrants pass through his county along the way to other locations.

Earlier this week, a CNN crew spent 12 hours on patrol with Pinal County deputies. In that time, the deputies captured more than 50 suspected illegal immigrants and about 2,000 pounds of marijuana.

Originally posted to Julie Gulden, Chairman's Pub Quiz Winner NN11 on Fri Apr 30, 2010 at 05:58 PM PDT.

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