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Press Release

Teen Who Smuggled Individuals and Recruited Juveniles to Smuggle Drugs Sentenced to 46 Months in Custody

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

SAN DIEGO -- Phillip Junior Webb, 20, was sentenced by District Court Judge Michael M. Anello in federal court today to 46 months in custody for conspiring to distribute controlled substances and smuggle undocumented individuals, including a Mexican national and Chinese national, for financial gain. 

According to the public record, at the time of the offense Webb was an 18-year-old high school senior who recruited other high school students to smuggle methamphetamine and/or fentanyl into the United States on multiple occasions.  In each instance, the juveniles had drugs strapped on their bodies as they attempted to enter the United States at the San Ysidro or Otay Mesa Ports of Entry.

In May 2018 Defendant Webb was caught attempting to bring a Chinese national and a Mexican national into the United States in the trunk of his vehicle.

In July 2018, Webb pleaded guilty in federal court to charges that he recruited classmates to smuggle methamphetamine and fentanyl.

“We cannot allow drug cartels to cavalierly recruit our youth to smuggle potent methamphetamine  and fentanyl drugs into our nation, thereby endangering our teens and contributing to our country’s addiction crisis,” said U.S. Attorney Robert S. Brewer, Jr. “We will stop this exploitation by bringing the full power of the justice system down on the recruiters who exploit these kids.”  

“Violent Mexican cartels are making money by exploiting children in the United States and Mexico,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Karen Flowers.  “Our children, naive to the dangers, are promised money in exchange for allowing cartel members to strap drugs on their bodies in the back alleys of Tijuana, often surrounded by gun-baring cartel members, and smuggle the drugs to the US.  What these children aren’t told is that these drugs are deadly and they are putting themselves at risk to be physically exploited or even killed. Phillip Webb coerced children with the lure of easy money and the Hollywood notion of a glamorized life of crime.  His sentencing makes it clear that we will not stand by and let profiteers damage our children.” 

“Today’s sentencing of Webb is an example of justice brought to an individual conspiring to exploit juveniles for their own financial gain,” said Timothy J. Tubbs, Acting Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in San Diego.  “HSI continues to partner with CBP, other law enforcement agencies, and prosecutors to educate juveniles on the dangers, risks, and consequences of being involved in the vicious world of drug smuggling.”

“I commend the great work of CBP, HSI and DEA and recognize the unified coordination across government agencies to bring this person to justice,” said CBP Director of Field Operations for San Diego, Pete Flores. “We will continue to work diligently with our partners to stop transnational criminal organizations from exploiting and corrupting our youth.”

U.S. Attorney Brewer commended AUSA Sherri Hobson as a “force of nature,” who, inspired by the Webb investigation, helped spearhead an ambitious juvenile smuggling prevention program, in collaboration with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the District Attorney, the San Diego Police Department, local schools, and South Bay Community Services.  Over the past year, the multi-agency prevention team made scores of presentations, which have already reached 11,580 people, including 9,250 students, more than 680 parents, 610 school staff, health and counseling professionals, 145 members of law enforcement and 215 community members. 

This case is the result of the ongoing efforts by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a partnership that brings together the combined expertise and unique abilities of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, dismantle and prosecute high-level members of drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations and enterprises.

DEFENDANT                                   Case No. 18MJ2229

Phillip Junior Webb                            Age: 20       Tijuana, Mexico


Count 1 – Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine (21 U.S.C. 841 & 846)

Maximum Penalty: Ten years minimum to life in custody; $1 million fine

Count 2 - Bringing in Undocumented Aliens for Financial Gain (8 U.S.C. 1324)

Maximum Penatly: Three years mandatory minimum to 20 years in custody; $250,000 fine


Homeland Security Investigations

Drug Enforcement Administration

Customs & Border Protection

Homeland Security Investigations

San Diego County Sheriff’s Department



Assistant U.S. Attorney Sherri Hobson (619) 546-6986

Updated August 19, 2019

Human Trafficking
Press Release Number: CAS19-0819-Webb