22 human smugglers used social media to recruit drivers in Arizona, prosecutors say
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced on Tuesday that 22 people were indicted for driving undocumented immigrants through Arizona. 13 indictments charged 22 people with conspiracy to transport illegal aliens for profit.
Each indictment charges a human smuggling coordinator who used Snapchat and WhatsApp to recruit teenagers and young adults in Arizona to transport migrants for money. Smuggling coordinators often recruit young people as drivers with social media posts that glamorize smuggling. Many posts claim drivers can make large sums of money without the risk of being arrested.
Homeland Security Agent in Charge Marcello DiLaura says trying to stop these smuggling operations is tough. While 22 people face charges, he says it’s likely just a dent in the overall problem. “It’s something we see every day, multiple times a day,” he said. “They got paid anywhere from $700 to $1,000 per person.”
Agent DiLaura says it can be enticing but a dangerous and illegal job. Some people may have good intentions, but others could be carrying weapons or drugs. “You just don’t know the repercussions. You don’t know the individuals on the other side of that social media platform. You could hurt your family. You could hurt yourself and you could put yourself in a position where you could jeopardize your future,” said DiLaura.
Many of the indicted coordinators were identified through law enforcement contacts, data from cellphones, and their social media accounts. If convicted, they could be sentenced to 10 years in prison, and up to a $250,000 fine.
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