22 alleged human smugglers using social media to recruit others charged in Arizona
Aug 23, 2023, 8:00 PM
(U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Arizona Photo)
PHOENIX — Nearly two dozen people face federal charges in Arizona for allegedly using social media to recruit drivers for human trafficking operations, authorities said Tuesday.
U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona announced that 22 people were charged with conspiracy to transport illegal aliens for profit in 13 indictments that were recently unsealed.
The cases involve human smuggling coordinators who allegedly used Snapchat to recruit drivers to transport people in the country without legal permission for financial gain, prosecutors said. Once drivers were recruited, coordinators often moved onto WhatsApp to plan the logistics.
The coordinators often glamorized smuggling, with some social media posts claiming drivers can make a large amount of money without the risk of being arrested, prosecutors said.
Most coordinators were identified through law enforcement contacts, social media accounts and data from cell phones.
A conviction for conspiring to transport illegal aliens for profit has a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000 and up to three years of supervised release.