TUCSON, Ariz. – Cochise County Sheriff Office deputies working Operation Stonegarden arrested two 19-year-old U.S. citizens and seven illegal aliens in a disrupted smuggling attempt in southeastern Arizona Friday evening.
The incident occurred when deputies working along State Route 80 near the New Mexico state line initiated a vehicle stop on a 2016 Jeep Patriot SUV. Deputies contacted Border Patrol agents in the vicinity to assist with the stop due to the number of people in the vehicle.
When agents arrived, they encountered and arrested seven illegal aliens and two adult U.S. citizens. Agents seized the vehicle and transported all subjects to the Douglas Border Patrol Station for processing.
During processing for immigration violations, agents identified all seven illegal aliens as male Mexican nationals ranging in age from 19 to 43. The two suspected smugglers face federal human smuggling charges and will remain in custody pending disposition.
Federal law allows agents to charge individuals by complaint, a method that allows the filing of charges for criminal activity without inferring guilt. An individual is presumed innocent unless or until competent evidence is presented to a jury that establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Collaboration between state, local, tribal and federal law enforcement agencies has created a greater force against transnational criminal organizations in southern Arizona disrupting illicit activities in border communities.
Operation Stonegarden is a Department of Homeland Security program that grants funds to other law enforcement agencies to enhance and strengthen border security throughout the United States.