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Press Release

Three Individuals Arrested for Conspiracy to Transport and Harbor 86 Illegal Aliens from Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras

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

TUCSON, Ariz. – On June 30, 2022, three individuals were arrested and charged in a complaint with Conspiracy to Transport and Harbor Illegal Aliens for Profit. Federal agents executed two search warrants resulting in the discovery of 79 undocumented non-citizens from Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras, inside a house and an apartment at the Sundowner complex in Phoenix, Arizona. An additional seven undocumented non-citizens were located in a nearby vehicle driven by Salvador Lopez-Vargas, 36, of Mexico. Jesus Gabriel Villela-Duran, 28, of Mexico, and Eleazar Soto-Diaz, 34, of Mexico, were identified as caretakers of the residences. 

A conviction for Conspiracy to Transport and Harbor Illegal Aliens for Profit carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, or both.

These charges resulted from the coordinated efforts of Joint Task Force Alpha (JTFA). The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona is part of the JTFA, which was established by Attorney General Merrick B. Garland in June 2021 to marshal the investigative and prosecutorial resources of the Department of Justice, in partnership with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), to enhance U.S. enforcement efforts against the most prolific and dangerous human smuggling and trafficking groups operating in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. The Task Force focuses on disrupting and dismantling smuggling and trafficking networks that abuse, exploit, or endanger migrants, pose national security threats, and are involved in organized crime. JTFA consists of federal prosecutors and attorneys from U.S. Attorneys’ Offices along the Southwest Border (District of Arizona, Southern District of California, Southern District of Texas, and Western District of Texas), from the Criminal Division and the Civil Rights Division, along with law enforcement agents and analysts from DHS’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Customs and Border Protection’s U.S. Border Patrol. The FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration are also part of the Task Force.

Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) – Douglas, Sells and Phoenix offices, Enforcement and Removal Operations - Phoenix, Customs and Border Protection’s U.S. Border Patrol - Brian A. Terry and Casa Grande Stations - conducted the investigation in this case. The United States Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, Tucson, is handling the prosecution.


CASE NUMBER:           MJ-22-6059-TUC
RELEASE NUMBER:    2022-108_Villela-Duran et. al


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Updated July 6, 2022

Human Trafficking
Human Smuggling
Press Release Number: 2022-108_Villela-Duran et. al