PHOENIX – A maximum security inmate arrested Wednesday, plotted to assassinate Sheriff Joe Arpaio because he held the sheriff personally responsible for the deportation of some of his family members to Mexico.
Maricopa County detectives arrested Samuel Matta on charges that he and two other inmates from the Sheriff's 4th Avenue Jail conspired to kill another inmate when authorities got wind of the assassination plot.
Matta already was being held in the state prison in Florence, where he has been serving a sentence for auto theft and running from police.
According to investigators, detectives were tipped off that Matta, 29, was planning to publicly assassinate Arpaio using a high-powered rifle.
But authorities said Matta, whom deputies labeled a documented gang member, didn't have $1,800 for bond and could not carry out his plan. Matta has not been charged in a plot to assassinate Arpaio.
Authorities said Matta believed that Arpaio was personally responsible for the deportation of some of his family members to Mexico from their home in El Mirage.
The investigation into the Arpaio murder plot then led authorities to the alleged plan to kill another inmate. Audio surveillance showed the men planning to kill a rival gang member, authorities said.
It was unclear if Matta had an attorney.