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.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

(Pexels photo)...

Alex Weiner

Arizona joins coalition backing EPA’s drinking water standards proposal

Arizona AG Kris Mayes joined a 17-state coalition calling on the EPA to finalize a drinking water standards proposal.

18 hours ago

( Photo)...

Danny Shapiro

Former Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges sells Paradise Valley home for $6.68 million

It didn't take long for former Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges to sell his luxurious Paradise Valley home.

18 hours ago

Daniel Davitt (Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)...

Inmate sentenced to 33 years for death of MCSO officer at Phoenix jail

An inmate convicted of manslaughter after fatally attacking a Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office detention employee was sentenced to 33 years in prison on Friday.

18 hours ago

File photo of a trout swimming. Saturday, June 3, 2023, is Free Fishing Day in Arizona....

Catch them while you can: Saturday is Free Fishing Day in Arizona

Fishing licenses won't be required at Arizona's state waters or community lakes Saturday as part of National Fishing Day.

18 hours ago

Photo of Rep. Juan Ciscomani of Arizona talks to reporters on Capitol Hill on Feb. 28, 2023. Ciscom...

Kevin Stone

GOP Rep. Juan Ciscomani of Arizona explains why he voted to lift debt ceiling

U.S. Rep. Juan Ciscomani of Arizona said Friday the deal to lift the debt ceiling isn't perfect, but it beats the alternative.

18 hours ago

(Arizona Lottery)...

Danny Shapiro

$50 scratch-off ticket winner hits top prize of $5 million in Arizona

There's been a first top prize winner of $5 million for a $50 scratch-off ticket game that debuted in Arizona earlier this year.

18 hours ago

Sponsored Articles



Here are the biggest tips to keep your AC bill low this summer

PHOENIX — In Arizona during the summer, having a working air conditioning unit is not just a pleasure, but a necessity. No one wants to walk from their sweltering car just to continue to be hot in their home. As the triple digits hit around the Valley and are here to stay, your AC bill […]



Thank you to Al McCoy for 51 years as voice of the Phoenix Suns

Sanderson Ford wants to share its thanks to Al McCoy for the impact he made in the Valley for more than a half-decade.



Why drug-free weight loss still matters

Wanting to lose weight is a common goal for many people as they progress throughout life, but choosing between a holistic approach or to take medicine can be a tough decision.

Final defendant sentenced for role in smuggling undocumented immigrants into Phoenix