El Mirage police arrest 24-year-old woman for running human smuggling operation
EL MIRAGE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - Police have arrested a woman who they say managed and directed the smuggling of hundreds of undocumented immigrants over the last six months.
On Friday El Mirage police got a call from a woman tipping them off about a group of people, including her husband, that was being held for ransom at a home near the 12000 block of West Dahlia Drive in El Mirage. Officers saw a car leave the home and stopped the driver, 24-year-old Tania Estudillo Hernandez, as she was transporting a Guatemalan national. Officers arrested Hernandez at the scene of the traffic stop. As they were arresting Hernandez police say two smugglers left the home on West Dahlia with 10 undocumented immigrants. Their whereabouts are still unknown.
During the investigation, investigators learned that 80-100 undocumented immigrants were being processed through home each month for at least six months. They charged up to $15,000 in smuggling fees. The home search turned up a rifle, two handguns, ammunition, and other human smuggling documents.
Hernandez was arrested and charged with violations of kidnapping, money laundering, illegally conducting or participating in an illegal enterprise and conspiracy. EMPD and the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs are continuing to investigate this crime.
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