22 Human Smugglers Using Social Media Charged in Law Enforcement Takedown

The United States Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, announced on Tuesday the recent unsealing of 13 indictments charging a total of 22 individuals with Conspiracy to Transport Illegal Aliens for Profit.

Each indictment charges a human smuggling coordinator who utilized social media, including Snapchat, to recruit individuals within Arizona to transport undocumented noncitizens for money. After recruiting the drivers on social media, the coordinators often switched to a messenger application such as WhatsApp to coordinate the logistics. Many of the indicted coordinators were identified through law enforcement contacts, data from cellular phones, and their social media accounts.

Smuggling coordinators often recruit juveniles and young adults as drivers with social media posts that glamorize alien smuggling. Many of the posts claim drivers can make large sums of money without the risk of being arrested, as depicted below in an exemplar from the first-listed case.

The charged cases include:

  • United States v. Ramon Moreno-Lopez; CR-23-01022-DWL
  • United States v. Mauricio Andrade-Garcia, et al.; CR-23-01024-DLR
  • United States v. Juan Ausencio-Avendano, et al.; CR-23-01026-DJH
  • United States v. Josiah Gomez, et al.; CR-23-01042-MTL
  • United States v. Jalen Harris, et al.; CR-23-01051-MTL
  • United States v. Ruben Ibarra, et al.; CR-23-01023-GMS
  • United States v. Dominic Leos, et al.; CR-23-01025-MTL
  • United States v. Jose Molina; CR-23-01041-SPL
  • United States v. Keyani Perez, et al.; CR-23-01040-DGC
  • United States v. Armando Ramirez, et al.; CR-23-01021-DLR
  • United States v. Fabian Rivera, et al.; CR-23-01020-DLR
  • United States v. Jose Sarabia, et al.; CR-23-01019-JJT
  • United States v. Arnoldo Soto, et al.; CR-23-01043-MTL

A conviction for Conspiring to Transport Illegal Aliens for Profit carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and up to three years of supervised release.