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18 arrested on suspicion of drugs, immigration

HOOVER (AP) — A joint force of law enforcement officials took 18 people suspected of either drug trafficking or entering the country illegally into custody today in Hoover, said a Drug Enforcement Administration official.

Harold Willis, resident agent in charge of the D-E-A office in Birmingham said 40 or 50 federal, state and local law enforcement officers wearing bulletproof vests were involved in the operation.

The arrests took place in the parking lot of a Lowe's Home Improvement store and stem-med from an investigation that began several months ago, The Birmingham News reported on its Web site today.

Willis said the DEA led the investigation because some of the men were suspected of drug trafficking.

Others agencies involved included the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Alabama Bureau of Investigation, several sheriffs departments and city police departments.

Willis said it was not certain whether all the men entered the country illegally. But all have been taken to a federal holding facility in the Etowah County Jail.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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