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Nov 13, 2013 1:11 PM by Faye DeHoff

13 arrested in Pinal County on human smuggling charges

PINAL COUNTY - 13 suspects have been taken into custody by Pinal County Sheriff's deputies for human smuggling charges.

On Friday, November 8th, a Pinal County Sheriff's Office deputy was on patrol on westbound Interstate 8. He noticed a Nissan passenger car and a Kia SUV also heading westbound. The Nissan just had a driver inside, while the SUV had a driver and a lone passenger. Both vehicles exited the interstate at Freeman Road.

The deputy continued traveling westbound for a few minutes and then turned around. Within minutes, the deputy saw the same two vehicles now going eastbound on the interstate. The deputy could see both vehicles now filled with passengers. The drivers of both vehicles committed a traffic violation by not stopping at the stop sign prior to entering the interstate. Two deputies stopped both vehicles on Highway 347.

The Kia was driven by 37-year old Paulina Cuevas-Perez of Mexico. Inside the vehicle were six individuals - 20-year old Xiomara Avalos of Phoenix, 25-year old Adrian Rodriguez-Zamora of Mexico, 19-year old Victor Aispuro-Bueno of Mexico, 25-year old Jesus Rios-Angulo of Mexico, 28-year old Juan Paez-Pena of Mexico and 38-year old Jose Domingo Aispuro-Quiroa of Mexico.

The Nissan was driven by 22-year old Laura Hernandez of Phoenix, and inside were five others-50-year old Mario Aispuro-Airpuro of Mexico, 33-year old Jose Feliz-Villegas of Mexico, 42-year old Juan Feliz-Amezquita of Mexico, 38-year old Jose Garcia of Mexico and 20-year old Evbaristo Algandar-Algandar of Mexico.

PCSO Anti-Smuggling Unit detectives determined Paulina Cuevas-Perez, who had already been deported two prior times from the U-S back to Mexico, made the arrangements to pick up the illegal immigrants. She was planning on picking them up near Interstate 8 and taking them to a hotel in the area of 83rd Avenue and McDowell Road in Phoenix. She knew she would need another vehicle so she called her cousin Laura Hernandez to assist. Xiomara Avalos is the daughter of Cuevas-Perez, who decided to go with her mother to help. The deal was Hernandez would be paid $200 for each person she picked up.

Deputies seized $3,000 from the individual suspects which was tied to the smuggling operation. They also seized both vehicles used and will request they be forfeited. The U.S. Border Patrol and officers from the Ak-Chin Police Department assisted us with this investigation.

Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu said, "The other ten individuals were interviewed by deputies and admissions were made the group had smuggled marijuana into the United States from Mexico. Mario Aispuro-Airpuro was the guide for the group and he used a handheld radio to communicate with individuals on the mountain tops to make sure their route was clear. Each smuggler was paid a determined amount of cash depending on the weight of the marijuana they carried during their 5 day walk through the desert. Once they reached Interstate 8 a red pickup truck stopped, the marijuana was loaded into it and then they were picked up by the two vehicles."

Paulina Cuevas-Perez, Laura Hernandez and Xiomara Avalos were all booked into the Pinal County Jail for Human Smuggling, Participating in Human Smuggling and Conspiracy to Participate in Human Smuggling. The other ten individuals were all booked into the Pinal County Jail for Human Smuggling and Conspiracy to Participate in Human Smuggling.

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