Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday that 3 of the 4 looting suspects arrested in Lee County are illegal immigrants who "need to be sent back to their home country," according to The Daily Mail.
DeSantis' comments came during a news conference in Fort Myers as he provided an update about the response to Hurricane Ian.
"These are people that are foreigners; they're illegally in our country, but, not only that, they try to loot and ransack in the aftermath of a natural disaster," the Republican governor said.
"They should be prosecuted, but they need to be sent back to their home country," he continued. "They should not be here at all."
According to the Florida Jolt, the four suspects were arrested Thursday on charges of burglary of an unoccupied structure during a state of emergency.
Valerie Celeste Salcedo Mena, 26, Brandon Mauricio Araya, 20, and Steve Eduardo Sanchez Araya, also 20, were also charged with grand theft, while Omar Mejia Ortiz, 33, was charged with petty theft.
All four were released after posting $35,000 bail each and are scheduled to appear for a hearing on Oct. 31, according to the Mail.
It was not immediately clear which three were in the country illegally.
Taking a hard line against looters, DeSantis said Florida is a "law-and-order state" and spoke of a sign he saw in Punta Gorda.
"They boarded up all the businesses, and there are people that wrote on their plywood, 'You loot, we shoot,' " he said.
"At the end of the day, we are not going to allow lawlessness to take advantage of this situation," DeSantis continued. "We are a law-and-order state, and this is a law-and-order community, so do not think that you're going to go take advantage of people who've suffered misfortune."
Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno backed up DeSantis, warning that looters risk being shot, not just by property owners, but by police.
"I'm not playing," Marceno said. "We're not playing. We have law and order, and great residents will be safe and secure. We've had arrests on these incidents."
"You might walk in," he added, but "you'll be carried out."
Hurricane Ian's death toll currently stands at 84, according to The Associated Press, and Fort Myers is one of Florida's most devastated areas, as rescue teams comb the debris in the search for survivors.
According to the property analytics firm CoreLogic, wind and storm-surge losses from the hurricane could total between $28 billion and $47 billion, making it Florida's most expensive storm since Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
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