Newly re-elected Sheriff Joe Arpaio on Thursday pledged to put an automatic weapon in the hands of every Maricopa Country deputy because "[m]ore and more illegal aliens are attempting to escape."

An official press release distributed by the Maricopa Country Sheriff's Office on Thursday told the story of several groups of "illegal aliens" that had tried to flee from deputies. In total, 16 allegedly undocumented immigrants were arrested during a two-day period. Several had tried to flee on foot or in cars and were chased down with helicopters and K-9 units. One vehicle was reportedly discovered with Hispanic males and "what appeared to be large bundles of marijuana."

"Once again the entry into Maricopa County from Mexico by illegal aliens does not seem to have subsided by evidence of numerous arrests made by my deputies," Arpaio said in the release. "Aside from their determination to get away we will continue to make every effort to pursue and apprehend human smugglers as well as drug traffickers."

He added: "More and more illegal aliens are attempting to escape which places my deputies in dangerous positions. In the near future I will be issuing automatic weapons for all my deputies."

(h/t: Think Progress)