A woman was arrested Friday evening for her role in a human smuggling operation based in El Mirage.
On September 23, 2022, at approximately 9:58 p.m., EMPD officers received a report of a person being held for ransom at 12604 West Dahlia Drive in El Mirage. The complainant stated in the residence there were multiple people kidnapped including her husband.
EMPD Officers observed a vehicle leave the home. The vehicle was stopped and a suspected human smuggler, Tania Estudillo Hernandez, age 24, was arrested while transporting a Guatemalan national. The arrest was based on evidence of Money Laundering and Conducting an Illegal Enterprise, violations of Arizona State law.
Through the investigation, the EMPD learned 80-100 Undocumented Immigrants were held and or processed in the home monthly for at least six months and charged as much as $15,000 U.S. Currency in smuggling fees. EMPD learned that while conducting the traffic stop, two smugglers left the home with 10 Undocumented Immigrants.
EMPD Detectives and EMPD Neighborhood Enforcement Team Officers responded to further the investigation. The Glendale Police Department’s SWAT team assisted, and a search warrant was served at the home and a semi-auto rifle, two handguns, ammunition, ledgers documenting human smuggling, and other evidence of human smuggling was seized, to include evidence that Tania Estudillo Hernandez managed and directed smuggling operations. One of the handguns was reported stolen out of Phoenix.
Tania Estudillo Hernandez was booked into Maricopa County Jail on violations of Kidnapping, Money Laundering, Illegally conducting or participation in an illegal enterprise, and Conspiracy.