Human-smuggling ringleader living in Phoenix sentenced to 7 years in prison

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Rosalio Palacios By Jennifer Thomas Rosalio Palacios By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX -- The leader of a human-smuggling organization has been sentenced to seven years in prison.

On Friday, Attorney General Terry Goddard announced the sentence for Rosalio Palacios, 28, an illegal immigrant from Mexico who was living in Phoenix.

A Maricopa County Superior Court judge also ordered Palacios to pay a $46,000 fine.

Goddard said the substantial prison term is notable because Palacios did not have a prior criminal history in the United States.

Palacios had pleaded guilty to five felony charges: participating in a criminal syndicate, illegal control of an enterprise, human smuggling, illegal use of a wire/electronic communication, and fraudulent schemes and practices.

Palacios was believed to be a ringleader of an organization that smuggled several thousand illegal immigrants in the past several years from Mexico to drop houses in Phoenix and then on to various parts of the United States at up to $1,800 per person.

The investigation and prosecution of Palacios resulted in the dismantling of the human-smuggling organization.

The organization also served as an independent contractor to other human-smuggling organizations, as well as providing maintenance of vehicles used to transport illegal immigrants.

Goddard said Palacios was also involved in using one or more members of the organization to obtain fraudulent motor vehicle titles for vehicles used to transport illegal immigrants.