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Press Release

Arizona Woman, Two Codefendants Sentenced for Human Smuggling Death

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

EL PASO, Texas – The third member of a group charged in a human smuggling case was sentenced today in a federal court in El Paso to 135 months in prison for her role in an ongoing conspiracy which resulted in the death of two migrants. 

According to court documents, Guadalupe Quezada, 35, of Mesa, Arizona, along with codefendants Veronica Quezada, 39, of Mesa, and Elizabeth Miranda Lozano, 39, of Dallas, actively participated in an ongoing conspiracy to bring in, transport, and harbor undocumented immigrants into the U.S. from Mexico from on or about November 2019 through on or about August 2021. The organization smuggled groups of migrants into the U.S. by traversing the border across the Chihuahuan Desert near Van Horn. Foot guides would direct the migrants to walk through the desert and rendezvous with drivers who then transport the immigrants to stash houses or staging areas for further harboring by stash house operators. During the time of the conspiracy, the organization twice abandoned migrants who were unable to keep pace with the group. An investigation revealed that the abandonment of the migrants under the harsh conditions resulted in their deaths.

Guadalupe Quezada would receive human smuggling proceeds in bulk as well as through financial institutions and redirect them to promote the human smuggling and to invest in real property. In addition to imprisonment, she also forfeits three Phoenix properties. Guadalupe Quezada and her two codefendants each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to bring an alien to the United States resulting in death.

“The dangerous smuggling of human beings across our border has become far too prevalent and those engage in or facilitate this activity must account for their deadly dealings,” said U.S. Attorney Jaime Esparza for the Western District of Texas. “I commend the joint multi-district efforts of our local, state, and federal partners to bring this case to a successful close. We will continue working together at all levels of law enforcement to aggressively prosecute human smugglers as long as their operations persist.”

“As demonstrated by these defendants, human smugglers have a callous disregard for the value of life,” said Special Agent in Charge Francisco B. Burrola for Homeland Security Investigations El Paso Division. “Tragically, their inhumane practices all too often result in serious injury or death. HSI will continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners to aggressively pursue transnational criminal organizations that jeopardize the lives of others for their personal profit." 

Veronica Quezada was sentenced to 63 months in federal prison on Dec. 13. Her role was to provide logistical support to foot guides, drivers and others by registering vehicles that would be used to facilitate the human smuggling venture. She traveled daily to the U.S. from Mexico to oversee operations on behalf of the organization.

Lozano was sentenced to 97 months in federal prison on Dec. 13. Her role was to transport and harbor aliens in staging areas prior to releasing them to their final destination. She relocated to Dallas from Arizona to manage the stash house on behalf of the organization.

HSI investigated the case with the assistance of the U.S. Border Patrol Big Bend and Tucson Sectors, Dallas Enforcement Removal Operations, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Texas Department of Public Safety, Dallas Police Department, and Hudspeth Country Sheriff’s Office.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jose Luis Acosta and Patricia Acosta prosecuted the case.

These charges resulted from the coordinated efforts of Joint Task Force Alpha (JTFA).  The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas 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 JTFA is comprised of detailees from U.S. Attorneys’ Offices along the southwest border, including the Southern District of Texas, the Western District of Texas, the District of New Mexico, the District of Arizona, and the Southern District of California. Dedicated support is also provided by numerous components of the Criminal Division that are part of JTFA, led by HRSP, and supported by ODPAT, the Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section, the Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section, the Office of Enforcement Operations, OIA, and the Violent Crime and Racketeering Section. JTFA also relies on substantial law enforcement investment from DHS, FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and other partners.  To date, JTFA’s work has resulted in over 260 domestic and international arrests of leaders, organizers, and significant facilitators of human smuggling; over 180 convictions; significant jail sentences imposed; and forfeitures of substantial assets. 



Updated December 19, 2023

Human Smuggling