MCSO arrests key suspects of human smuggling cartel

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LAVEEN, Ariz. -- The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office has put a big dent in a human smuggling cartel based out of a home in Laveen.

MCSO announced Wednesday that several key members of the cartel have been arrested and indicted.

The group’s alleged leader, Javier Rito-Martinez, was arrested by deputies Wednesday afternoon at the home in Laveen.

The arrests follow a five-month investigation by MCSO and special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.

During the course of the investigation, authorities learned that the cartel was controlling the flow of people being smuggled from the area of Oaxaca, Mexico.

The cartel was reportedly able to generate millions of dollars while conducting their illegal operations.

MCSO said they were able to shut down numerous drop houses throughout the Valley during the past five months.

“It’s a real tragedy knowing that multiple members of this smuggling operation have been deported a number of times each,” said Arpaio. “Martinez, the ringleader of this syndicate, had been deported eight times by the U.S. Government.”

The other people arrested during the investigation include Herolinda Isaias-Moreno, 44; Fernando Benitez-Valdez, 33; Julio Menseses-Yanez, 28; Marco Isaias-Moreno, 47; Angel Avila-Najera, 36; Irinero Rios-Ordaz, 31; and Jesus Munoz-Ortiz, 44.