The pace of workplace raids in Arizona's most populous county has slowed, with only about half as many raids conducted in 2013 as the annual average in the previous five years.

The Arizona Republic reported that Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's criminal employment squad conducted six work-site raids in 2013, down from an average of nearly 14 in the previous five years.

Arpaio says any decrease is just a coincidence. He says immigration-enforcement investigations can take a long time.

However, immigration-rights activist Carlos Garcia suggests the slower pace may be a result of tougher scrutiny from a case in which a judge has ruled that Arpaio's department engaged in racial profiling.

Meanwhile, Phoenix employment lawyer Julie Pace said Arpaio's office seems to be taking more care in its investigations.