WASHINGTON (AP) _ About 8,000 people from 39 countries who were planning to illegally enter the United States have been arrested this month, the Immigration and Naturalization Service said Wednesday.
The sting, dubbed Operation Crossroads International, involved law enforcement agencies in the United States, Canada and 12 Latin American and Caribbean countries.
Officials said 75 smugglers and illegal document vendors also were arrested during the operation, which ran from June 4-20.
``To date, this is the largest, most successful operation of its kind. The message is clear _ the United States is committed with its partners to pursuing smugglers wherever they operate,'' said Hipolito Acosta, the INS Mexico City director who oversaw the operation.
Of those arrested, more than 5,500 have been returned to their countries of origin, the INS said.
The sting is the ninth anti-smuggling operation the INS has conducted in the past five years.