Sheriff Arpaio to President Obama: 'we're not stopping'

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio speaks with 9 On Your Side

Sheriff Arpaio to President Obama: 'we're not stopping'

CREATED Oct 6, 2011

Reporter: Steve Nuñez

PHOENIX, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - Despite the federal government investigating him for civil rights violations, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio launched his 20th crime and immigration sweep pledging his deputies will continue to arrest illegal immigrants.

Arpaio, who remains vigilant and undeterred, wasted little time dispatching 200 deputies including 100 volunteer posse. Arpaio claims his deputies will mostly target traffic violators. During the two day operation, deputies also plan to raid several businesses Arpaio said ar up to no good.

"I'm an equal opportunity guy," said Arpaio. "I lock everybody up."

But Arpaio didn't shy away from who he's really going after.  

"We've already arrested 13 people and we just started, 9 are here illegally in this country," said Arpaio.

Yet, the self-proclaimed, "America's toughest Sheriff," denied his deputies are racial profiling.

9 On Your Side Reporter Steve Nuñez asked: "Is Southwest Phoenix a predominant Hispanic area?"

"I don't know, you know why, I don't know because it doesn't make any difference," answered Arpaio. "This is predomionant crime area. We don't take a census."

However this time around, Arpaio did not allow 9 On Your Side to tag along by following deputies as they conduct their crime sweep.

Arpaio said, "We have a drug operation going on right now in the area and I can't talk too much about it."

So we went out on our own. We did not catch up to the action.

But we caught with Jose Javier. He claims he's a legal resident. Javier said Arpaio's deputies mostly target Hispanics.

Nuñez asked: "So why do you continue to live in Maricopa County if you don't like Sheriff Joe Arpaio?"

"Joe Arpaio no es (is not) chief," said Javier. "It's United States liberty."

Or, is it?

The feds accuse Arpaio of using tactics that violate civil liberties.  

Arpaio claims his crime sweeps targets drivers who violate traffic laws.

"My answer to the President is, we're not stopping," said Arpaio.

That's because Arpaio said he has an agreement with the federal government that allows him to verify immigration status but only after a driver is stopped for speeding or having a broken tail light.

Nuñez asked: "What do you say to critics who say your crime sweeps have very little effect and therefore you should do more to focus on major criminals?"

"We lock up murderers and people who threaten to kill people in schools," said Arpaio. "And everyday we're out there locking up major criminals, it just doesn't get publicized."

In the previous 19 crime sweeps, Arpaio's deputies have arrested 1409 people of which 848 were illegal immigrants.