ARIZONA NEWS

Honduras woman pleads guilty to illegally smuggling migrants across US-Mexico border

Jan 27, 2024, 5:45 AM

pleaded guilty to human smuggling...

A woman pleaded guilty to human smuggling this week, officials announced Thursday. (File photo by Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images)

(File photo by Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images)

PHOENIX — A woman pleaded guilty to human smuggling charges on Wednesday, officials said.

Maria Mendoza-Mendoza, 51, admitted to leading a conspiracy to transport undocumented migrants for profit, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona announced on Thursday.

This carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

Officials said the Honduras woman also went by the nickname “La Guera,” which loosely translates to “white girl.”

Why she pleaded guilty to human smuggling

The organization Mendoza-Mendoza led smuggled over 100 migrants from Honduras to the U.S., officials said. She allegedly coordinated both alien smuggling and money laundering efforts.

Mendoza-Mendoza allegedly threatened guides with violence, telling one she’d make them “bleed out,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona said.

She also told one migrant she’d throw him “back in the desert” if his family did not pay a fee, officials said.

Mendoza-Mendoza also admitted her organization used firearms and put migrants in danger, officials said.

Government leaders in Honduras extradited her to the U.S. to face these charges in June 2023.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona handled the prosecution in this case.

Mendoza-Mendoza’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for April 2. She will stand before U.S. District Judge Raner Collins.

We want to hear from you.

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

Arizona News

Persian New Year Festival...

KTAR.com

Annual Persian New Year Festival adds fashion show, musical performance to schedule

This year's version of the Persian New Year Festival will feature three events over four days starting Feb. 28 in Scottsdale.

43 minutes ago

42-year-old Joseph D. Eschief (left), 27-year-old Antonio N. Eschief and 46-year-old Selena Dewey. ...

KTAR.com

4 people stabbed during early-morning melee at Scottsdale bar

A suspect is in custody after four people were stabbed early Saturday during a violent altercation at a bar in Scottsdale.

43 minutes ago

Phoenix Fire...

KTAR.com

Occupant dead after vehicular crash leads to flames in Phoenix

One person died and two others suffered non-life-threatening injuries after a vehicle crash sparked a fire in Phoenix, authorities said. 

1 hour ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump hugs and kisses the American flag a...

Associated Press

Trump calls himself a ‘proud political dissident’ in CPAC speech

In a CPAC speech, Trump painted an apocalyptic vision of the future if President Joe Biden wins again as the two prepare for a rematch.

3 hours ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump gestures to the audience after spea...

Associated Press

Donald Trump wins South Carolina GOP primary, beating Nikki Haley in her home state

Trump has now swept every contest that counted for Republican delegates, with wins already in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada.

4 hours ago

In this Sept. 30, 2011, file photo, solar panel installation continues at a rapid pace at the Mesqu...

Associated Press

Over 1 million Arizona customers to see rooftop solar fees increase

About 1.4 million customers in Arizona will be paying more for electricity now that regulators have approved a rate hike.

5 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.

(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.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Valley residents should be mindful of plumbing ahead of holidays

With Halloween in the rear-view and more holidays coming up, Day & Night recommends that Valley residents prepare accordingly.

Honduras woman pleads guilty to illegally smuggling migrants across US-Mexico border