Friday, July 18, 2008

750th Defendant Prosecuted Under Human Smuggling Statute

The expert team of prosecutors in the Special Crimes Bureau within the county attorney’s office completed its 750th successful prosecution under Arizona’s human smuggling statute, County Attorney Andrew Thomas announced today. Nestor Santiago-Maria, 22 (DOB 11/8/85), was sentenced to jail time and probation on Monday July 14, 2008 in the courtroom of Commissioner Phemonia Miller. Thedefendant was arrested on March 25, 2008 by deputies from the Sheriff’s Office.

The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office has played a critical role in this statistic because it is making arrests for the charge of Conspiracy to Commit Human Smuggling, a class 4 felony. The first-of-its-kind law in the country, the statute holds human cargo accountable for their part in illegally entering into the United States, a transaction initiated by their contracting with “coyotes” to assist them.

On March 25, 2008 at approximately 11:45pm Sheriff’s Deputies contacted the defendant during a traffic stop at milepost 127 on Hwy 60 in Maricopa County. The defendant was a passenger in an SUV containing 10 occupants. All passengers (including the defendant) admitted to being foreign citizens illegally present in the United States.

The defendant stated he made an agreement with an unknown human smuggler in Mexico. The defendant stated he agreed to pay $1200 to be illegally smuggled into the United States and transported on to his final destination of Sacramento, California. The defendant said the smuggler abandoned them in the desert and they met up with another group of illegal aliens. They were taken to a drop house in Phoenix. The defendant then made a new agreement with the driver of the SUV to be taken to California for a fee of $900. The defendant believed transportation in the SUV was part of this agreement.

“These successful prosecutions of the human smuggling law represent victories in the overall fight to control illegal immigration in Maricopa County,” said Thomas. “I want thank Sheriff Arpaio for showing leadership on this front and I look forward to working side by side with him as this struggle continues.”

For more information contact:
Mike Anthony Scerbo, Public Information Officer
(602) 506-3170 (office) or (602) 489-6913 (cell)

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