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9 Arizona men charged in undercover child exploitation sting

PHOENIX (AP) — State prosecutors say nine men have been indicted in an undercover child sexual exploitation investigation. Operation Silent Predator took place in January and involved police departments in Phoenix, Tempe, Mesa and Chandler plus Homeland Security Investigations and the Arizona Attorney General’s Office. Authorities say the operation’s goal was to crack down on people soliciting sexual conduct with minors through various social media websites and applications. Undercover agents pretended to be minors in the crackdown. Prosecutors say the nine suspects range in age from 23 to 65. All have been indicted on charges of attempted sexual conduct with a minor.


Man sleeping in Scottsdale alley killed by trash truck

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Police in Scottsdale say a man is dead after being run over by a city trash truck. They say 34-year-old Freddie Tombo was dressed in dark clothing and sleeping under some refuse in an alley around 6 a.m. Wednesday. A trash truck was driving through the alley as part of its normal collection route when it struck Tombo. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Police say an investigation is underway.


Grand Canyon National Park closes to visitors amid pandemic

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Grand Canyon National Park has closed indefinitely to visitors, joining other national parks seeking to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The park made the announcement Wednesday. Staff at the Grand Canyon had been shutting down visitors services piecemeal as the federal government initially rebuffed the park's request to shutter completely. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said he finally approved the park's request at the recommendation of a local health official. Grand Canyon spokeswoman Joelle Baird said the closure is a relief to a lot of people in the park and to community members. The park said this week that a resident who worked at a lodge tested positive for COVID-19.


Arizona governor requests Trump make disaster declaration

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona's governor is asking President Donald Trump to issue a major disaster declaration for the state as it braces for a surge of coronavirus cases. Gov. Doug Ducey said Wednesday the move is needed to trigger higher federal aid and resources. A declaration would add funding for more mental health care, unemployment and food assistance and other state efforts. Ducey is also urging understanding as people and small businesses face due dates for bills like mortgages, rent and utilities. Arizona has reported more than 1,400 coronavirus cases and 29 deaths.


Border Patrol agents in Yuma rescue 3 immigrants from canal

YUMA, Ariz. (AP) — Border Patrol agents in Yuma are being credited with rescuing three immigrants from a canal adjacent to the Colorado River. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials say the three immigrants from India were found to be in distress and struggling to stay afloat Monday in the Salinity Canal. Agents deployed a water rescue bag and pulled the three immigrants to safety. Border Patrol officials say the three were in good health and refused additional medical treatment. The rescued immigrants have been charged with immigration violations. Their names and ages have not been released.


Calls mount to close Grand Canyon after resident gets virus

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Calls are mounting for the federal government to close Grand Canyon National Park after a resident of the iconic park tested positive for the coronavirus and has been in isolation. Members of Congress and city, county and tribal officials have urged the Interior Department to approve a request from the park to close. The Park Service has been deciding whether to shut down individual sites on a park-by-park basis, in consultation with state and local health officials. The agency said Tuesday that no decision has been made. The man who tested positive lived at a dorm within the park and worked at a lodge run by a park concessionaire.


Unemployment grows, so has demand at Phoenix-area food banks

PHOENIX (AP) — Some food banks in the Phoenix metro area are reporting a huge increase of people seeking sustenance as unemployment claims continue to grow because of the coronavirus pandemic. St. Mary’s Food Bank served 1,250 people at its largest Phoenix facility on March 23 compared with 495 a week earlier. A spokesman says St. Mary’s has served more than 1,000 people every day since March 17. The facility had never before served 1,200 people in one day outside of the holiday season. United Food Bank reports it distributed food to an estimated 2,000 households last Friday at the Mesa Convention Center. Nearly 89,000 people applied for unemployment benefits last week compared with 3,500 a week before the health crisis.


New sheriff's aircraft purchase approved by Mohave County

KINGMAN, Ariz. (AP) — The Mohave County sheriff's office has upgraded its older and slower plane for a newer eight-passenger twin-engine aircraft with county approval. The Kingman Daily Miner reported that the Mohave County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the $265,000 purchase on Thursday. County officials say the plane will be paid for with funds from the department designated to fight organized crime in the United States. The 1982 Cessna will replace the smaller 1976 Cessna model that has been out of service and in need of repair. Authorities say the plane will be used for prisoner transfers, surveillance and to quickly transport SWAT teams to distant parts of the county during emergencies.