HUACHUCA CITY — A Tucson man was charged with human smuggling after U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents allegedly found four immigrants in the country illegally in the backseat of his car near Huachuca City.
The CBP agents were alerted to a silver Nissan Sentra on July 31 just after 6 p.m. after another motorist spotted the vehicle stopped on the side of State Highway 90.
“A Good Samaritan saw some people wearing camouflage coming out of the brush on SR 90,” CBP Agent Joe Curran said Monday. “The car was stopped on the side of the road and they got into the back seat.
“People from the area know what kind of activity that is and they called us.”
Curran said the driver of the Nissan is a 25-year-old man from Tucson. His name was not yet available Monday. According to a CBP press release, the man was armed with a Taurus .357 Magnum handgun. The four men in the backseat — three Mexicans and one Guatemalan sporting camouflage pants — were not armed, Curran said.
It’s believed the smuggler and his human cargo were able to slip through because the CBP’s checkpoint on Highway 90 was closed at that hour on July 31, Curran said.
“When the checkpoint is down, it’s prime time for them to move stuff through,” Curran said, referring to human smugglers, drug mules, etc. “Luckily we got a call from the Good Samaritan.”
The caller told CBP agents that the Nissan left Highway 90 and turned onto Elder Avenue, a side street off Highway 90 and East Oak Street. That’s where CBP agents stopped them, Curran said.
At a Cochise County Sheriff’s Office roundtable discussion last week, sheriff’s office Sgt. Tim Williams told several lawmakers that lately undocumented immigrants who want to vanish within the U.S. have been wearing camouflage in an effort to pass through undetected. Williams, who heads the sheriff’s SABRE/Ranch Patrol division, said at the meeting that he and his team have found several pieces of camouflage clothing scattered about the desert. The discarded clothing has created a litter problem, said both Williams and Cochise County Board of Supervisors member Tom Borer.
Curran said it’s common to see people from Tucson and Phoenix arrange such human smuggling transactions in the area.
“They want to make some quick money and they can charge anywhere from $500 to several thousands of dollars per person [they smuggle in],” Curran said.
It’s not clear how much the Tucson suspect charged the men in his car, Curran said. He said the four immigrants were taken to the CBP’s Tucson Coordination Center. From there, they will either be deported to their home countries or turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Curran said the accused human smuggler, a U.S. citizen, was arrested, but he had no information regarding where the man is being held.