Two Men Charged After Smuggling 22 Undocumented Noncitizens in a Water Truck

Antonio Varela-Verdugo, a U.S. citizen, and Gilberto Villalva, a citizen of Mexico, were charged by complaint on October 25, 2023, with Conspiracy to Transport Illegal Aliens.

The complaint alleges that Varela-Verdugo and Villalva conspired to smuggle 22 undocumented noncitizens in the tank of a water truck. On October 23, 2023, Yuma Station Border Patrol agents followed a water truck suspected of transporting undocumented noncitizens in its tank from California into Yuma, Arizona, where the water truck stopped at a local residence. Across the street, a Honda Civic, operated by Villalva, was suspected of waiting to guide the water truck to a local stash-house. Agents interdicted both vehicles after departing the stash-house and discovered 22 individuals, all citizens of Mexico, stuffed into the tank of the water truck.

A conviction for Conspiracy to Transport Illegal Aliens carries a maximum penalty of up to 10 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both, and a term of up to three years supervised release.

Customs and Border Protection’s U.S. Border Patrol – Yuma, conducted the interdiction and subsequent investigation in this case. The United States Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, Phoenix Division, Yuma Office, is handling the prosecution.