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Arizona Woman, 24, Busted Running Multi-million Dollar Human Smuggling Ring

Victor Westerkamp
Victor resides in the Netherlands and writes about freedom and governmental and social changes to the democratic form of nations.
Published: September 29, 2022
An Arizona woman has been charged with operating a multi-million dollar human smuggling ring in the Southern border crisis
In this aerial view, a date farm stands next to a section of the U.S.-Mexico border wall in Yuma, Arizona. A 24-year-old Arizona woman was arrested and charged with running a multi-million dollar human smuggling operation at the southern border. (Image: John Moore/Getty Images)

A 24-year-old woman from Arizona was arrested for allegedly smuggling 80 to 100 immigrants into the country each month, netting $7.2 million in just six months, El Mirage Police Department says.

“On September 23, 2022, at approximately 9:58 p.m., EMPD officers received a report of a person being held for ransom at 12604 West Dahlia Drive in El Mirage. The complainant stated in the residence there were multiple people kidnapped including her husband,” the El Mirage Police Department reported on their Facebook page.


The suspect was El Mirage resident Tania Estudillo Hernandez, who was booked into Maricopa County Jail on violations of kidnapping, money laundering, illegally conducting or participating in an illegal enterprise, and conspiracy.

A profitable business model

The victims of the alleged trafficking scam were apparently pressed to pay up to $15,000 in ransom money per person in order to be released into the U.S. However, the exact modus operandi of the ring has not yet been disclosed.

What we do know is that, according to the police, some 80 to 100 persons were being held and “processed” each month for the last six months, at just this one El Mirage residence alone. 

This would amount that the organization would have made at least $7.2 million in just six months, based on ledgers found at the residence.

It is neither publicly known how many people were involved in the organization, where the money went, nor clear whether the immigrants were voluntarily traveling into the U.S. or were kidnapping victims held against their will.

Evidence found

It seems the suspect was apprehended while she was transferring one immigrant from one place to another during a regular traffic stop.

“EMPD Officers observed a vehicle leave the home. The vehicle was stopped and a suspected human smuggler, Tania Estudillo Hernandez, age 24, was arrested while transporting a Guatemalan national,” the report continued.

EMPD claimed they based their arrest on evidence of money laundering and conduct of an illegal enterprise. The document also mentions two other human traffickers transporting 10 undocumented immigrants.

EMPD Detectives, EMPD Neighborhood Enforcement Team Officers, and the Glendale Police Department’s SWAT team assisted in the raid after a search warrant was served at the compound.

Reportedly, police found a semi-auto rifle and two handguns, one of which was reported stolen in Phoenix. Also, ammunition, documentation attesting to human smuggling, and other evidence were found at the scene, police say.

The notice also alleged they found evidence of Hernandez being the head of the smuggling ring.

According to The Epoch Times, some 10,000 illegal getaways, i.e., people that make it crossing the frontier illegally while being noticed yet not apprehended, cross the Tuscon section of the border each month, based on figures by U.S. border agencies obtained by the outlet. 

Meanwhile, the Arizona border patrol captured more than 514,000 immigrants during the fiscal year 2022 so far, the newspaper says.