ARIZONA NEWS

Final defendant sentenced for role in smuggling undocumented immigrants into Phoenix

Apr 24, 2023, 8:00 PM

(Pexels Photo)...

(Pexels Photo)

(Pexels Photo)

PHOENIX — The final defendant in a scheme to smuggle undocumented immigrants into Phoenix for financial gain has been sentenced, authorities said Monday.

Salvador Lopez-Vargas, 36, of Michoacan, Mexico, was sentenced to three years in prison followed by three years of supervised release, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona said in a press release.

Lopez-Vargas and two others pleaded guilty in December 2022 to conspiracy to transport illegal aliens for profit.

Surveillance efforts led to the discovery that the three suspects were picking up undocumented immigrants and taking them to a house and apartment in the Valley.

When Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents entered the residences, they found nearly 90 undocumented immigrants, according to the release.

Lopez-Vargas, the leader of the operation, was arrested after he drove up to the house in a van that was carrying seven additional undocumented immigrants.

The other two suspects in the case, 35-year-old Eleazar Soto-Diaz and 28-year-old Gabriel Villela-Duran, were each sentenced to 13 months in prison.

HSI in Douglas conducted the investigation in coordination with HSI divisions in Sells and Phoenix, the Enforcement and Removal Office in Phoenix, and Customs and Border Protection’s United States Border Patrol in Tucson and Casa Grande.

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Final defendant sentenced for role in smuggling undocumented immigrants into Phoenix