Phoenix: A veteran sheriff`s deputy was shot and wounded after encountering a group of suspected illegal immigrants who apparently had been hauling bales of marijuana along a major smuggling corridor in the Arizona desert, a violent episode that comes amid a heated national debate over immigration.
State and federal law enforcement agencies deployed helicopters and scores of officers in pursuit of the suspects after the deputy was shot with an AK-47 last afternoon, and the search continued into the night.
Deputy Louie Puroll, 53, had a chunk of skin torn from just above his left kidney, but the wound was not serious. He was released last night from Casa Grande Regional Medical Centre.
The shooting was likely to add fuel to an already fiery national debate sparked last week by the signing of an Arizona law aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration in the state.
Puroll was found in the desert after a frantic hour-long search, suffering from a gunshot wound, Pinal County sheriff`s Lt Tamatha Villar said.
The 15-year department veteran had been performing smuggling interdiction work before finding the bales of marijuana and encountering the five suspected illegal immigrants, two armed with rifles.