2 charged for smuggling 22 undocumented noncitizens in water truck from California to Yuma

Nov 1, 2023, 4:35 AM

Image of Border Patrol truck to illustrate story on assaults on agents in Arizona....

(U.S. Customs and Border Protection Photo)

(U.S. Customs and Border Protection Photo)

PHOENIX — Two men were charged for smuggling 22 undocumented noncitizens in a water truck from California into Arizona, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

Antonio Varela-Verdugo, a US. Citizen, and Gilberto Villalva, a Mexican citizen, were charged by complaint on Oct. 25, with conspiracy to transport illegal aliens.

The complaint alleges the two men conspired to smuggle 22 people in the truck. Yuma Station Border Patrol agents followed a water truck suspected of transporting undocumented noncitizens across state lines. The truck stopped at a local residence in Yuma.

Across the street from the home, a Honda Civic, operated by Villalva, was suspected of waiting to guide the water truck to a local stash-house, officials said.

Customs and Border Protection’s  U.S. Border Patrol Agents interdicted both vehicles after departing the stash-house. During the stop, they discovered 22 people, who were all citizens of Mexico, stuffed into the tank of the water truck.

Border Patrol investigated the case.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, Phoenix Division, Yuma Office, is handling the prosecution.

If convicted of conspiracy to transport illegal aliens, both men face up to 10 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both and a term of up to three years supervised release.

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2 charged for smuggling 22 undocumented noncitizens in water truck from California to Yuma