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Tucson stripper arrested on human smuggling charges

Maria Bustamante is shown. (Pinal County Sheriff's Office)

An Tucson exotic dancer was arrested Friday for allegedly attempting to smuggle six illegal immigrants to Phoenix, the Pinal County Sheriff's Office said in a release.

Deputies contacted Maria Bustamante, 33, after she allegedly made several traffic violations. When deputies approached the vehicle, they noted that it contained six men who all appeared nervous.

Bustamante said she was giving her friends a ride to Phoenix, but could not name them when asked. Deputies then questioned each man and determined they were all illegal immigrants who had paid between $40 and $200 for a ride into Phoenix. Three men had been deported before and one admitted to have previously smuggled marijuana.

Bustamante told deputies she planned to drop the men off in Phoenix before driving to Texas, where the father of her children is incarcerated. She also claimed that a friend asked her to drive the men, but that she knew that they were in the country illegally.

Bustamante was charged with six counts of human smuggling. Her vehicle and the $1,000 cash she had were seized by deputies.

All six men were turned over the Border Patrol.

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