TUCSON, Ariz. – After Arizona Department of Public Safety troopers stopped a 2005 Chevrolet Tuesday afternoon for an expired registration, they called the Border Patrol in Casa Grande for assistance to investigate possible human smuggling.
The DPS troopers were conducting patrol duties as part of their participation in “Operation Stonegarden”, a program funded by the Department of Homeland Security and managed by the Border Patrol.
During questioning of the vehicle’s five occupants, the DPS troopers became suspicious that all were possibly part of a human smuggling operation.
Border Patrol agents arrived on scene and started an immigration inspection. Agents soon identified the male driver as a 41-year-old Mexican national without proper authorization to be in the United States. Agents also identified the female front-seat passenger as a 17-year-old U.S. citizen.
The three rear-seat passengers were identified as two adult foreign nationals from Guatemala and Honduras, and a male 17-year-old Mexican national…all in the U.S. illegally.
The driver now faces federal prosecution on human smuggling charges, while the other foreign nationals are being processed for immigration violations. The U.S. juvenile was turned over to Arizona Department of Child Protective Services.
Operation Stonegarden funds local law enforcement agencies and their officers for overtime worked. They also receive specialized technology and equipment to help them combat transnational criminal organizations during these operations.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.