Skip to main content
Press Release

22 Human Smugglers Using Social Media Charged in Law Enforcement Takedown

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Arizona

PHOENIX, Ariz. – The United States Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, announced today 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.

An indictment is simply a method by which a person is charged with criminal activity and raises no inference of guilt. An individual is presumed innocent until evidence is presented to a jury that establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Homeland Security Investigations–Casa Grande and Customs and Border Protection’s U.S. Border Patrol–Tucson Sector conducted the investigations. Assistant United States Attorneys Ross Arellano Edwards, John Ballos, Timothy Courchaine, Brett Day, Matthew Doyle, Lisa Jennis, Christine Keller, Marcus Shand, LeighAnn Thomas, and Stuart Zander, District of Arizona, Phoenix, are handling the prosecutions.


































RELEASE NUMBER:    2023-126_Snapchat Takedown

# # #

For more information on the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, visit
Follow the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, on Twitter @USAO_AZ for the latest news.


Public Affairs
Zach J. Stoebe
Telephone:  (602) 514-7413

Updated August 22, 2023

Human Trafficking
Press Release Number: 2023-126_Snapchat Takedown