Colombian woman indicted for smuggling around 100 people into Arizona

Mar 19, 2024, 4:05 AM

Colombian woman indicted for smuggling over 100 people into U.S. in Arizona...

The woman is suspected of smuggling at least 100 people into the country, prosecutors said. (Pexels Photo)

(Pexels Photo)

PHOENIX — A federal grand jury indicted a Colombian woman on charges of conspiring to smuggle undocumented migrants into Arizona, authorities announced on Monday.

Greiby Melissa Barcelo-Velasquez is facing multiple charges, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona. The office did not disclose her age.

Prosecutors accused her of conspiring to bring noncitizens into the U.S. illegally — as well as making a profit from her human smuggling operations.

Barcelo-Velasquez smuggled at least 100 undocumented migrants into Arizona, prosecutors said.

Colombian woman used a travel agency as a cover, prosecutors say

Barcelo-Velasquez owned a travel agency in Colombia since June 2023, prosecutors said.

Multiple Colombian nationals allegedly told authorities Barcelo-Velasquez had helped smuggled them into the U.S., officials said.

After that, border patrol and homeland security officials started investigating her in late 2023.

How did the human smuggling operation work?

Barcelo-Velasquez would allegedly meet with people in Colombia and demand a fee before informing them of the plan.

She would tell the Colombian nationals they’d travel to Mexico and pretend they were taking a vacation, prosecutors said.

Barcelo-Velasquez allegedly told her customers they’d have to pay additional fees in U.S. dollars during different parts of their travel.

Once they reached Hermosillo, Mexico, the Colombian people she was smuggling would go to stash houses near the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona, prosecutors said.

Barcelo-Velasquez’s associates would bring the Colombian nationals to the border, where they illegally crossed into the U.S., prosecutors said.

Customs and Border Protection’s United States Border Patrol Sector Intelligence and Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation in this case.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona is handling the prosecution.

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Colombian woman indicted for smuggling around 100 people into Arizona