East Valley teens arrested for smuggling illegal migrants in Cochise County

Eli LaClaire (pictured left) and Landon Vert (pictured right).
19-year-old Eli LaClaire from Mesa and his passenger, 18-year-old Landon Vert from Gilbert were arrested in Cochise County Friday after deputies found the duo smuggling 5 illegal migrants from the border.(Cochise County Sheriff's Office)
Published: Nov. 12, 2023 at 7:18 PM MST|Updated: Nov. 12, 2023 at 9:17 PM MST
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COCHISE COUNTY, Ariz. (3TV/CBS 5) - Two teens were arrested Friday, one from Gilbert and the other from Mesa, after they were found trying to smuggle five illegal immigrants from the border, Cochise County Sheriff’s Office confirmed.

Deputies said in a news release Sunday that 19-year-old Eli LaClaire from Mesa and 18-year-old Landon Vert from Gilbert were stopped in their 2009 Honda Ridgeline truck while traveling through the southern Arizona county on Highway 80. Sheriff’s officials said that both the driver (LaClaire) and his passenger (Vert) were arrested and booked on potential human smuggling charges. The migrants found inside the duo’s truck were handed over to the U.S. Border Patrol for processing.

Law enforcement on the border has seen an uptick over the last year in teens from the U.S. being recruited by cartels on social media to smuggle migrants into the country illegally.

It was not immediately clear when the teens could face formal charges.

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