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Illegal immigrants detained along I-81 in Berkeley County

July 09, 2008

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A West Virginia State Police trooper on road patrol Tuesday afternoon stopped a van on Interstate 81 carrying 10 illegal immigrants who were apparently traveling from New York from Mexico, according to 1st Sgt. E.D. Burnett.

The van was stopped about 1:30 p.m. near the 11-mile marker after Trooper Campbell said the vehicle was traveling 45 mph on the highway, where the posted speed limit is 70 mph, Burnett said.

Campbell determined the Arizona registration on the van was not a registered tag and was improperly displayed, and he stopped the vehicle, police said.

Police later learned the driver, Fortunato Rojas Arana, 34, had three charges of smuggling illegal immigrants filed against him and twice had been deported from the United States, police said.

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The nine passengers were from Mexico and included a 13-year-old boy, a 34-year-old woman and seven men between the ages of 18 years old and 36 years old.

Police said Arana had a South Gate, Calif., address.

The immigrants were taken to the state police detachment in Martinsburg and released to federal immigration agents, police said.

- Matthew Umstead

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