Trajahn Alexander Johnson, 25, of Glendale, Arizona, was sentenced last week by United States District Judge Douglas L. Rayes to six months in prison, followed by two years of supervised release. Johnson, the final co-conspirator to be sentenced, pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Transport Illegal Aliens Resulting in Death.
Johnson’s co-defendants were charged for their role in the transportation of the undocumented noncitizens and they also pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Transport Illegal Aliens Resulting in Death and were sentenced by Judge Rayes:
- Israel Omar Vargas, 21, of Avondale, Arizona, was sentenced on September 19, 2022, to 80 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release.
- Worine Terrell Sams, Jr., 25, of Mesa Arizona, was sentenced on March 27, 2023, to 64 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release.
Two other individuals also were charged by a separate indictment for their role in the transportation of undocumented noncitizens and pleaded guilty to Transportation of Illegal Aliens Resulting in Death and were sentenced by United States District Judge Susan M. Brnovich:
- Tristan James Mott, 22, of Mesa, Arizona was sentenced on January 18, 2023, to 78 months in prison, followed by five years of supervised release.
- Jera Simone Richard, 25, of Tempe, Arizona, was sentenced on January 30, 2023, to 36 months in prison, followed by five years of supervised release.
On October 1, 2020, in response to a 911 call, the Gila River Police Department (GRPD) conducted an investigative traffic stop of a U-Haul box truck. Upon investigation, GRPD officers discovered that there were 14 undocumented noncitizens in the U-Haul truck, one of whom had died during the transportation. Four others were taken to the hospital, suffering from heat-related illnesses. GRPD officers identified Richard as the driver of the U-Haul and Mott as the passenger. It was later determined that Richard and Mott had coordinated the transport of the 14 individuals with Vargas, Sams, and Johnson.
“Human smuggling is always a risky business proposition, and sometimes those seeking a better life in America pay the ultimate price,” said U.S. Attorney Gary Restaino. “Thanks to the collective work of a private citizen calling 911, observant tribal police officers and dedicated federal agents, we disrupted an alien smuggling scheme and held these five defendants accountable for the death of a migrant in their care.”
“Dismantling human smuggling networks has been a longtime focus for HSI Arizona, but for those events that have resulted in a death of a migrant our investigation intensifies,” said Scott Brown, special agent in charge for HSI Arizona. “No one should ever lose their lives at the hands of a smuggler. Together, with our law enforcement partners, we continue to identify smuggling syndicates to safeguard the U.S. border and help save the lives of people these organizations regularly prey upon.”
Homeland Security Investigations–Casa Grande Office conducted the investigation in this case. The United States Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, Phoenix, handled the prosecution.