2 arrested in Mexico on charges of human smuggling in Arizona

Mar 25, 2023, 5:45 AM

(AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)...

(AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

(AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

PHOENIX – Two people are facing human smuggling charges in Arizona after being arrested in Mexico, federal authorities announced Wednesday.

Ofelia Hernandez-Salas, 60, and Raul Saucedo-Huipio, 48, allegedly were involved in an international smuggling operation along the U.S.-Mexico border for years, the Department of Justice said in a press release.

INTERPOL and Mexican authorities arrested them last week after charges filed in Arizona were unsealed.

“By dismantling an organization that has operated with impunity for so many years, we have taken yet another stride toward making the global community a safer place,” Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. said in the release.

“It is thanks to our tremendous partnerships with countries like Mexico that we are able to draw a line in the sand and make it crystal clear that people will no longer be treated like commodities and their lives will no longer be put at risk in the name of profit.”

The defendants allegedly were part of a smuggling ring that charged tens of thousands of dollars to migrants from around the world.

The operation worked to get people from Bangladesh, Yemen, Pakistan, Eritrea, India, the United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Russia, Egypt, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico into the U.S., prosecutors say.

The smugglers allegedly often robbed the people who hired them.

“These defendants allegedly conspired to flout America’s immigration laws, and to victimize the very migrants they were purporting to help,” U.S. Attorney Gary Restaino for the District of Arizona said in the release.

“Our friends and neighbors in Mexican law enforcement have been integral to our efforts to bring this smuggling ring to justice.”

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2 arrested in Mexico on charges of human smuggling in Arizona