Troopers round up suspected illegals |

Troopers round up suspected illegals

The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

DENVER – State troopers newly trained to operate under the authority of federal immigration agents arrested 48 suspected illegal immigrants in their first roundup, authorities said.

All were from Mexico, said Carl Rusnok, a spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Seventeen women and children were returned to Mexico voluntarily, he said. The men were being held in Aurora for immigration violations, he said.

The Colorado State Patrol encountered all of them during traffic stops Tuesday on Interstate 70, between the Eisenhower Tunnel and Vail Pass.

Three vehicles were stopped for alleged traffic violations, while a fourth was stranded on the side of the road, Master Trooper Ron Watkins said.

Two of the vehicles had 15 people inside, one had nine people, and one held 10 people, Rusnok said. The total included one infant U.S. citizen, Rusnok said.

“Anyone in the U.S. illegally runs the risk of being identified, arrested and returned to the country of origin,” Rusnok said.

The troopers who made the traffic stops were part of the State Patrol’s Immigration Enforcement Unit. The unit completed training this summer to become the first of its kind in Colorado and the 17th in the nation. Unit members have the authority to process and detain suspected illegal immigrants, an authority already held by the FBI and ICE.

Members of the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition planned a vigil Wednesday for those affected by the arrests. They denounced what some members called “police-state” tactics.

“It is a sad day to see the state of Colorado using the very limited resources it has to enforce federal immigration laws,” says Eddie Soto of Companeros in Durango in a written statement. “Our lawmakers in Washington do not have the guts to tackle this issue and use our precious tax dollars which should be spent on education and health care.”

Watkins said troopers could only stop cars for traffic violations.