Woman in El Mirage arrested for managing human smuggling operations
PHOENIX — A woman was arrested Friday evening for her role in a human smuggling operation based in El Mirage, authorities said.
Tania Estudillo Hernandez, 24, was booked into Fourth Avenue Jail on charges including kidnapping, money laundering, conspiracy and illegally conducting a criminal enterprise, the El Mirage Police Department said in a press release.
Investigators said between 80-100 immigrants were held or processed in the home each month for at least six months. They were also charged smuggling fees of up to $15,000.
Officers received a tip from a caller Friday evening about a person being held against their will at a home near El Mirage and Thunderbird roads, including the complainant’s husband.
When police arrived at the home, they saw Hernandez leaving in a vehicle. She was stopped and arrested while transporting a Guatemalan national, police said.
Evidence of a related investigation into money laundering and conducting an illegal enterprise aided in her arrest.
While Hernandez was being arrested, investigators learned two other smugglers had left the home with 10 immigrants.
A search warrant for the home led to the seizure of a semi-automatic rifle, two handguns, one of which had been reported stolen in Phoenix, and ledgers documenting human smuggling.
EMPD will continue to work with the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customers Enforcement throughout the investigation.