Skip to main content
Press Release

Tucson Woman Sentenced to Nearly Five Years for Smuggling Drugs and Undocumented Noncitizens

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

TUCSON, Ariz. – Yesenia Isabel Mendez, 40, of Tucson, Arizona, was sentenced on Friday by U.S. District Judge Jennifer G. Zipps to 57 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. Mendez was convicted of one count of Possession with Intent to Distribute Fentanyl and one count of Conspiracy to Transport Illegal Aliens for Profit while Placing in Jeopardy the Life of any Person. 

On August 1, 2020, Mendez was arrested for carrying nearly half a pound of fentanyl hidden on her body while she was a passenger on a commercial shuttle van inbound from Mexico. With no prior criminal history, she was released pending resolution of her case. On October 23, 2020, Mendez pleaded guilty to the charge; however, in January 2021, she absconded from her pretrial supervision, before her sentencing could take place. Three months later, on March 21, 2021, Mendez was again arrested, this time for Alien Smuggling. During the attempted traffic stop in that offense, she and her co-defendant tried to flee from Border Patrol but instead crashed into a concrete wash, resulting in injuries to herself, the co-defendant, and the undocumented noncitizen they were smuggling. She subsequently pleaded guilty on June 21, 2021, to the Alien Smuggling Offense. Her sentence included a mandatory enhancement due to the multiple offenses that she committed.

United States Border Patrol conducted the investigation in this case. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, Tucson, handled the prosecution.


CASE NUMBER:            CR-20-2157-TUC-JGZ (LCK); CR-21-1408-TUC-JGZ (LCK)
RELEASE NUMBER:    2022- 027_Mendez, Yesenia

# # #

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.

Updated March 21, 2022

Drug Trafficking
Press Release Number: 2022-027_Mendez, Yesenia