On Nov. 8, a deputy with the Pinal County Sheriff's Office in Arizona, was on a patrol on I-10 when he observed a 2004 Chevrolet minivan commit several traffic violations. The officer pulled the minivan over and saw the vehicle, driven by a woman, had six male passengers. The driver, Maria Bustamante, 33, told the deputy the six men were friends of hers.
When the officer asked what the names of her friends were, she didn't know. And after asking the men if they were United States citizens, they all shook their heads or said "no."
Bustamante allegedly told police that a friend had asked her to drive the men from Tucson to Phoenix. After dropping them off, she planned to drive to Texas where the father of her children is in jail. The Pinal County Sheriff's Office says that the men paid or promised to pay her to be taken to Phoenix and when arrested, she was found to have $1,000 in her possession.
reports Bustamante, who works as a dancer in a Tuscon strip club, was charged with six counts of human smuggling and was taken to the Pinal County Adult Detention Center.
It is not alleged Bustamante had anything to do with bringing the men into the United States. According to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
(ICE), the crime of human smuggling is not restricted to sneaking someone into the United States. It also includes harbouring or transporting illegal aliens who are already in the country.
According to KPHO
, the illegals all agreed to pay Bustamante for the trip although the amounts varied. The men, all citizens of Mexico, paid or agreed to pay between $40 and $200 to be driven from Tuscon to Phoenix. Bustamante allegedly admitted to sheriff's officers that she knew all the men were in the United States illegally.
One of the men, Joaquim Moroyogui, 63, had been deported from the United States five times before and had admitted bringing marijuana into the country on previous entries. Julio Cesar Carrillo Romo, 23, is alleged to have been in the U.S. after entering the country illegally for the fifth time.
The six passengers have been turned over to the U.S. Border Patrol.