Three of those captured overnight Friday matched descriptions from the wounded Pinal County deputy and were being questioned Saturday, sheriff's Lt. Tamatha Villar said. The deputy was released from the hospital, and was recovering at home.
Illegal Immigrants Sought in Ariz. Cop Shooting
The shooting came amid a growing national debate over the state's new law cracking down on illegal immigration. A backlash over the law has erupted, with civil rights activists, concerned it will lead to racial profiling, calling for protests and boycotts.
Criticism of the law was sure to figure prominently at dozens of immigrants rights marches and rallies planned for Saturday across the nation, including one set for the grounds of the Arizona state Capitol.
The new law's passage came amid increasing anger in Arizona about violence, drug smugglers and illegal immigration drop houses. The issue gained renewed attention a month ago when a southern Arizona rancher was shot and killed by a suspected illegal border crosser.
Arizona politicians called Friday's shooting an outrage and urged the federal government to do more to secure the U.S.-Mexico border.
The violence "should show the rest of the country what we Arizonans have known for too long - the unsecured border poses a very real and very immediate danger," said U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, a Democrat whose district includes part of Pinal County.
On Friday afternoon, Deputy Louie Puroll, 53, was patrolling near Interstate 8 when he came upon a stash of marijuana bales and five suspected smugglers. At least one of the suspects opened fire on him, tearing a chunk of skin from his back.
Puroll radioed in that he was shot, setting off a frantic hourlong search for the deputy in the remote desert, Villar said.
The area is a well-known smuggling corridor for drugs and illegal immigrants headed from Mexico to Phoenix and the U.S. interior.
State and federal law enforcement agencies deployed helicopters and scores of officers to search a 100-square-mile zone for the suspects. The Arizona Republic reported that officials said more than one of the choppers came under fire during the manhunt on Friday.
Puroll, a 15-year department veteran, had been on the lookout for smugglers when he discovered the suspected smugglers, two armed with rifles, authorities said.
Coverage of Arizona's New Immigration Law
Rallies Across U.S. Protest Arizona Law
Dobbs: Protests Against Ariz. Law Just "Theater"
Immigration Law Condemned by MLB Players' Union
Arizonans Say Immigration Law Will Reduce Crime
Arizona Immigration Law Backlash Intensifies
Ariz. Immigration Debate Zeros in on Baseball
2 Lawsuits Challenge Immigration Ariz. Law