Phoenix woman accused of murder in U-Haul human smuggling operation

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX (AP) -- A Phoenix woman is accused of second-degree murder in a human smuggling operation she allegedly orchestrated.

Pinal County Sheriff's officials say 48-year-old Yolanda Banda was arrested Wednesday night. She's also is being held on suspicion of human smuggling and unlawful transport.

Her bond was set at $250,000 Thursday. She doesn't have a lawyer yet.

Deputies say eight heat exhaustion victims were found in the back of a U-Haul van at an Interstate 10 gas station at Picacho Peak northwest of Tucson.

One of the eight -- a man from Mexico -- later died at a Tucson hospital.

Authorities issued a search warrant at the U-Haul rental on July 12. They reported finding a rental contract signed by Banda and a gasoline receipt in Douglas with her credit card.