MARICOPA, Ariz. – A 29-year-old woman from Mexico was arrested after Pinal County authorities found 11 immigrants believed to be in the country illegally inside her vehicle.
A K-9 deputy stopped a Ford Explorer driven by Janette Salido-Hernandez for traffic violations on state Route 347 near Maricopa Friday morning.
The deputy found a male front seat passenger with a bundle of marijuana between his legs and three male passengers sitting in the back seat. The deputy then discovered seven males and a bundle of marijuana underneath a blanket in the rear cargo compartment, according to the Pinal County Sheriff's Office.
The 11 passengers admitted they were in the United States illegally. They all claimed no knowledge of the marijuana.
The two packages of marijuana weighed a total of 45.5 pounds and had a street value of more than $34,000.
The vehicle was seized and authorities also found a backpack that contained batteries, cellphones, a handheld radio and other personal hygiene items, according to PCSO spokesman Tim Gaffney.
Sheriff Paul Babeu said Salido-Hernandez claimed she didn't know the marijuana was in her car. She told detectives that she saw a male standing by the side of the highway attempting to wave her down. She stopped and the next thing she knew the male and all of the others got into her vehicle.
According to Babeu, Salido-Hernandez accepted $300 to take the others to Phoenix.
Salido-Hernandez was booked on drug-related charges and turned over to U.S. Border Patrol. The 11 passengers were also transferred to border officials for processing.