A Burbank man trying to collect money for smuggling three illegal aliens into the country was shot in the back late Sunday, which led police to an apparent "safehouse" where 18 illegal aliens were being held, Burbank police said Monday.
Police arrested five men in connection with the shooting, Lt. Duane Dow said. Three associates of the wounded man were also arrested, two on suspicion of receiving stolen property and another for trafficking in illegal aliens, Dow said.
The Burbank man, Aaron Rodriguez, 27, was shot at about 10:10 p.m. Sunday as he sat in a car parked at a gasoline station at San Fernando Road and Alameda Avenue in Burbank. He was reported in serious but stable condition Monday at St. Joseph Medical Center.
Trying to Get Paid
Rodriguez "was apparently a participant" in a group trying to collect money from friends and relatives of three illegal aliens, all women, in exchange for bringing them from Mexico to Burbank, Dow said.
The five people arrested on suspicion of attempted murder were friends and relatives of the women, and were standing outside the car negotiating a price for their release, Dow said. The women were sitting in the back seat of the car, he said.
"They may have tried to get the women by force instead of paying," Dow said.
A friend of Rodriguez, Douglas Martinez, 25, of Burbank, drove the car away after the shooting, police said. The five men followed in another car, trailing Martinez to his house in the 100 block of East Providencia Avenue, where they fired more shots but hit no one, Dow said.
Police discovered 18 illegal aliens in the house, including the three women who had been in the car, Dow said. They were turned over to the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, and were being held Monday at the downtown Los Angeles INS detention center.
Officers also found stolen television sets, videocassette recorders, videotapes and office supplies at the house, Dow said.
Arrested on suspicion of attempted murder were Jose Torres, 19, of Compton; Luz Martinez, 22, and Oscar Martinez, 26, both of Whittier; Jose Oliva, 21, and Jose Lopez, whose age was not known, both of El Monte.
Douglas Martinez and Jose Camarena, 23, of Burbank were arrested on suspicion of receiving stolen property. A Fresno man, Lopez Lupercio, 18, was arrested on suspicion of trafficking in illegal aliens.
All the suspects were being held Monday in Burbank jail. No bail had yet been set.