https://www.theepochtimes.com/arizona-woman-made-7-2-million-from-human-smuggling-in-6-months-police_4755517.html

A 24-year-old Arizona woman was arrested and charged with crimes related to a human smuggling enterprise on Sept. 23, according to the El Mirage Police Department (EMPD).

Over a six-month period at least, the woman, Tania Estudillo Hernandez, had allegedly held and/or processed 80 to 100 illegal aliens per month at a residence in El Mirage, the police department stated in a Facebook post.

The illegal aliens were charged as much as $15,000 each in smuggling fees, police said. At $15,000 a person, for 80 people per month over six months, that’s a total of $7.2 million.

Police said the department received a report of a person being held for ransom at the El Mirage address on the morning of Sept. 23.

“The complainant stated in the residence there were multiple people kidnapped, including her husband,” the EMPD stated.

Officers stopped a vehicle leaving the residence and discovered Hernandez transporting a Guatemalan national, the report stated.

“EMPD learned that while conducting the traffic stop, two smugglers left the home with 10 Undocumented Immigrants,” the police department noted.

During a subsequent search warrant executed on the home police seized a semi-auto rifle, two handguns (one of which was reported stolen out of Phoenix), and ammunition.

“Ledgers documenting human smuggling, and other evidence of human smuggling was seized, to include evidence that Tania Estudillo Hernandez managed and directed smuggling operations,” the EMPD stated.

A Google maps view of W Dahlia Drive, El Mirage, Ariz., where an alleged human smuggler was holding illegal immigrants on Sept. 23, 2022. (screenshot)

Hernandez was booked into Maricopa County Jail on violations of kidnapping, money laundering, illegally conducting or participation in an illegal enterprise, and conspiracy, police said.

El Mirage is located in the greater Phoenix metropolitan area and is less than 3 hours’ drive to the U.S.–Mexico border.

The Tucson Border Patrol sector in Arizona leads the nation in known gotaways, which are illegal aliens that Border Patrol detects, but fails to capture. Border Patrol reported about 10,000 illegal alien gotaways in the Tucson sector per month during the last several months, according to provisional Customs and Border Protection numbers obtained by The Epoch Times.

Border agents in Arizona have apprehended more than 514,000 illegal aliens in fiscal year 2022, which ends on Sept. 30.

Often, Border Patrol agents are tied up processing large groups of illegal border crossers, which leaves miles of border unpatrolled.

Charlotte Cuthbertson

Senior Reporter

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Charlotte Cuthbertson is a senior reporter with The Epoch Times who primarily covers border security and the opioid crisis.

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