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Mexico man gets eight years in prison for smuggling migrants over border

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(The Center Square) – U.S. District Judge John C. Hinderaker sentenced a human smuggler to a term of eight years in prison last week for his role in a conspiracy to transport thousands of illegal migrants from Mexico into Arizona after a year-long investigation from Homeland Security Investigations.

Manuel Ochoa-Vasquez, 39, of Paso Hondo, Mexico, will also have to serve out three years of supervised release following his sentence, according to the Arizona District Attorney’s Office.

The homeland investigation found that Ochoa-Vasquez and other co-conspirators were moving thousands of Mexican nationals to homes and a mechanic’s shop in the metro Phoenix area.

“The investigation revealed that the people being smuggled were detained at the stash house until their smuggling fees were paid,” the DA’s office said in a June 12 release. “Additionally, wire communications revealed that Ochoa-Vasquez and his co-conspirators sometimes threatened the families or sponsors of the people being smuggled if the smuggling fees were late.”

Ochoa-Vasquez pleaded guilty in December to Conspiracy to Transport Illegal Aliens for Profit and Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering charges.

Following the sentencing of Ochoa-Vasquez, another key figure in the case, Carlos Barron-Arredondo, has been handed a prison sentence of 57 months. Barron-Arredondo will undergo 36 months of supervised release upon completion of the prison term.

The remaining 13 co-conspirators, all of whom had previously pleaded guilty and had varying degrees of involvement in the criminal organization, received sentences ranging from time served to a maximum of 63 months behind bars.

According to an earlier The Center Square report, nearly 1,456 foreign nationals who illegally entered and subsequently reentered the United States faced criminal charges between the first three fiscal months of 2023.

Additionally, the DA’s office filed 260 cases against individuals accused of engaging in the smuggling of illegal foreign nationals in Arizona.

“Reducing migrant smuggling and mitigating the risk to communities impacted by these offenses continues to be a priority for the Office and its law enforcement partners,” the DA said in a February statement. “Some of these prosecutions are directed against leaders and coordinators of non-U.S. citizen smuggling organizations. Other prosecutions are aimed at deterring young adult drivers, often recruited over social media platforms, from engaging in this dangerous activity.”

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