A woman allegedly helped process hundreds of undocumented immigrants monthly through a home in Arizona over the course of six months, charging each thousands of dollars, according to law enforcement officials.
Shortly before 10 a.m. on Sept. 23, the El Mirage Police Department said they received a report about a person who allegedly was being held for ransom at a residence and the female complainant “stated in the residence there were multiple people kidnapped, including her husband.”
According to police, responding officers observed a vehicle leave the home and executed a traffic stop on the driver, who authorities identified as Tania Estudillo Hernandez, 24.
Police said they arrested Hernandez and allegedly discovered she was transporting a Guatemalan national at the time.
During the stop, two smugglers left the home with 10 undocumented immigrants, according to officials.
The El Mirage Police Department said an investigation determined that each month for at least the prior six, 80 to 100 undocumented immigrants paid as much as $15,000 in smuggling fees and were held and processed in the home.
Authorities noted a search of the residence in question allegedly turned up a semi-auto rifle, two handguns — one of which was reported stolen in Phoenix — ammunition, ledgers documenting human smuggling, and other evidence of human smuggling.
Evidence allegedly also indicated Hernandez managed and directed smuggling operations, according to El Mirage police.
She was booked into the Maricopa County jail on suspicion of kidnapping, money laundering, illegally conducting or participation in an illegal enterprise, and conspiracy.