ARIZONA NEWS

Man found guilty of smuggling charges after leaving woman to die in southern Arizona

Dec 4, 2023, 10:02 AM

Migrants seen walking through the desert to enter into the United States....

A federal jury last week found a Mexican man guilty of smuggling charges after he left a woman to die in southern Arizona while transporting migrants into the United States in 2021. (AP File Photo/Gregory Bull)

(AP File Photo/Gregory Bull)

PHOENIX — A federal jury last week found a Mexican man guilty of smuggling charges after he left a woman to die in southern Arizona while transporting migrants into the United States in 2021, authorities said.

Jesus Ernesto Dessens-Romero, 27, of Agua Prieta, Mexico, was convicted on Nov. 28 of conspiracy to transport, transportation of migrants for profit and bringing migrants to the country for profit, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona said.

A conviction for bringing migrants into the country for profit carries a mandatory minimum penalty of 5 years in prison. His sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 22.

What is the story behind the Mexican guide’s human smuggling conviction?

Prosecutors said Dessens-Romero was guiding five Mexican nationals, including three sisters and their family friend, through a perilous route into the country on or about Feb. 13, 2021. The group traveled through the remote Huachuca Mountains near Fort Huachuca in southern Arizona, where they had limited food and water available and were dealing with the cold and snow.

On Feb. 15, 2021, one of the sisters, a 23-year-old who was the eldest, was in physical distress, which led to Dessens-Romero advising the group that she would be found if she were left at a traveled roadway.

Prosecutors said Dessens-Romero found cell phone reception, and instead of him calling for help from authorities, he called a transnational criminal smuggling organization. The group left the sister and was led to Sierra Vista, where unidentified co-conspirators picked them up and took them further into the country.

The woman’s family reported her as a missing person on Feb. 16, 2021, but despite an extensive investigation and assistance from multiple agencies, the 23-year-old woman was not found until months later on Nov. 20, 2021, by members of SOS Búsqueda y Rescate.

Prosecutors said Dessens-Romero continued to smuggle migrants into the country until June 2021. He was arrested on June 30, 2021, by the Tennessee Highway Patrol while transporting two migrants.

Prosecution in this case resulted from efforts by Joint Task Force Alpha, which was established in June 2021 with a focus on dismantling smuggling and trafficking networks that abuse, exploit or endanger migrants.

The Douglas Office of Homeland Security Investigations investigated the case in coordination with the Fort Huachuca Army Criminal Investigation Division, the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System, the Nashville Office of HSI and the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

We want to hear from you.

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

Arizona News

A man was shot and killed in northwest Phoenix on Feb. 23, 2023. (Facebook File Photo/Phoenix Polic...

KTAR.com

Police seeking suspect after man shot dead in northwest Phoenix alley

The Phoenix Police Department is looking for a suspect after a man was shot dead in a northwest Phoenix alley on Thursday evening.

1 hour ago

The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess is eyeing a big expansion on-site. (VRX Studios/Justin Kriel)...

Ron Davis/Phoenix Business Journal

Fairmont Scottsdale Princess eyes expansion of guest rooms, restaurants, event spaces and more

The iconic Fairmont Scottsdale Princess filed a request to the city of Scottsdale to update its master plan.

3 hours ago

Follow @KTAR923...

KTAR.com

TSMC reaches construction milestone for Phoenix chip factory

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. in Phoenix reached a construction milestone on its chip plant this week.

4 hours ago

Stock image of four men working off the ground on a grid of steel rods. Construction was one of Ari...

Kevin Stone

Arizona had 103 fatal work injuries in 2022, a sharp increase from previous year

There were 103 fatal work injuries in Arizona in 2022, according newly released federal statistics, 54% more than a year earlier.

5 hours ago

Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) attends a House Armed Services Committee hearing on July 9, 2020, in Wash...

KTAR.com

Ruben Gallego calls Arizona US Senate rival Kari Lake’s switch up on John McCain ‘insulting’

Democratic Arizona U.S. Senate candidate Ruben Gallego isn't buying Kari Lake's change of heart when it comes to John McCain.

6 hours ago

...

KTAR Video

Video: Arizona and New York attorneys battle over extraditing murder suspect

Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell said New York City authorities can extradite a murder suspect, but after he’s prosecuted for violent crimes in metro Phoenix. This comes in response to recent remarks by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg that garnered national attention. Video: Jeremy Schnell and Felisa Cárdenas/KTAR News Photos: Getty Images

7 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

(KTAR News Graphic)...

Boys & Girls Clubs

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.

...

Canvas Annuity

Interest rates may have peaked. Should you buy a CD, high-yield savings account, or a fixed annuity?

Interest rates are the highest they’ve been in decades, and it looks like the Fed has paused hikes. This may be the best time to lock in rates for long-term, low-risk financial products like fixed annuities.

Man found guilty of smuggling charges after leaving woman to die in southern Arizona