ARIZONA NEWS

Human smuggling ring leader with operations in Phoenix gets 7½ prison sentence

Mar 15, 2024, 9:01 AM

Martin Garcia-Velazquez of Mexico was sentenced to 7½ years in prison. (AP File Photo)...

Martin Garcia-Velazquez of Mexico was sentenced to 7½ years in prison. (AP File Photo)

(AP File Photo)

PHOENIX — The leader of a human smuggling ring with operations in Phoenix was sentenced to 7½ years in prison, authorities said Thursday.

Martin Garcia-Velazquez of Mexico, 42, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transport and harbor illegal aliens for profit in September 2023, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona.

In addition to his 90-month prison term, he was given 36 months of supervised release and ordered to pay a $5,000 mandatory special assessment.

Here’s what prosecutors said the ring leader did

Garcia-Velazquez, also known as “Tucan,” admitted to conspiring to transport and harbor at least 1,000 undocumented citizens through several years from the Mexico border to houses in and around Phoenix.

The multiyear investigation resulted in the forfeiture and seizure of over $1 million plus multiple firearms with ammunition and five vehicles.

Co-conspirators already receive sentences for human smuggling operation

Three co-conspirators in the smuggling ring were previously prosecuted.

Jesus Torres-Aguilera was sentenced to time served, equivalent to 23 months, in October 2023 after pleading guilty to conspiring to transport and harbor illegal aliens for profit and conspiracy to launder monetary instruments.

Elmer Rene Del Cid Santos was sentenced to 1½ years in prison in October 2023 after pleading guilty to conspiring to transport and harbor illegal aliens for profit.

Angelico Roa-Joachin received a 6½-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to conspiring to transport and harbor illegal aliens for profit and reentry of a removed alien.

Multiple law enforcement agencies from the federal, state and local level in Arizona, North Carolina, Georgia and Alabama worked on the investigation.

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Human smuggling ring leader with operations in Phoenix gets 7½ prison sentence