2 Arrested for human smuggling after overloaded van stopped

Posted: Updated:

The following is a press release from the Yavapai Co. Sheriff's Office:

On January 24, 2008, at approximately 2:15 P.M., Yavapai County Sheriff's Office deputies stopped a white Chevrolet Suburban for impeding traffic and being overloaded with passengers. The driver, who did not speak English, produced an obviously fake Mexican chauffeur's license when contacted. The vehicle contained 12 passengers packed inside and none were wearing seat belts.

The driver and passengers were all detained pending a phone call to officers from Immigration and Customs Enforcement to establish documentation status. ICE interviewed all detainees, and confirmed each were illegal aliens and placed an immigration hold on the group.

A search of the vehicle revealed additional fake Mexican chauffer licenses. Deputies also discovered the vehicle's suspension had been modified to handle added passenger weight with additional leaf springs and high capacity coil springs. During a record check of the occupants, the front seat passenger was found to have a prior deportation case from February of 2008 following a traffic stop by DPS. This person was identified as 21-year-old Edgar Correa.

All subjects were transported to the Camp Verde Jail pending transfer to ICE custody. Deputies identified the driver as 28-year-old Alberto Correa, and learned Edgar is his nephew. Alberto admitted he had been hired by a "coyote" in Phoenix who provided the Suburban vehicle along with $400.00 dollars in gas money. The 11 passengers had been picked up from a Phoenix drop house. The destination of the group was not clear. Deputies determined that Alberto and Edgar were working together and profiting as Human Smugglers. As a result, both were charged with 11 counts of Human Smuggling and booked. Alberto was additionally charged with Possession of a Forged Instrument. Both are held without bond.

The remaining illegal aliens were eventually released to the custody of ICE pending deportation hearings. A majority of those released to ICE told deputies they had been smuggled into the U.S. after paying $1600.00 dollars to a "coyote."