On Friday, Nov. 9, at 8:19 p.m. a Pinal County Sheriff’s Deputy stopped a 2004 Oldsmobile minivan westbound on Interstate-10 near milepost 216 for several traffic violations. The driver of the vehicle was later identified per an Arizona Identification Card and Permanent Resident Alien Card as Tucson resident Maria Bustamante, 33.
Inside of the vehicle with her were six other Hispanic male individuals who were acting very nervous.
Maria said she was giving the six men who were her friends a ride to Phoenix from Tucson. When questioned further she could not provide the names of the individuals inside of her vehicle.
The six men were asked where they were headed and one of the men said “California.” When asked if they were U.S. citizens all of the men shook their heads and said no. The individuals were then interviewed one at a time.
Alejandro Santos (age 36 from Puebla, Mexico) said he has been illegally in the United States for the past month. He said he paid the driver $200 for the ride. This was his first time in the United States.
Julio Cesar Carrillo Romo (age 23 from Puerto Penasco, Sonora, Mexico) said he has been illegally in the United States for the past month and a half. He said he paid the driver $120 for the ride. This was the fifth time he has entered the United States illegally.
Ramon Felix Valdez (age 59 from Hermosillo, Sorora, Mexico) said he has been illegally in the United States for the past month. He said he paid the driver $40 for the ride. He has been deported twice before for being in the United States illegally.
Joaquin Moroyoqui (age 63 from La Constancia El Fuerte, Sinaloa, Mexico) said he has been illegally in the United States for the past three months. He said he met the driver of the vehicle at a bar and she agreed to give them a ride. He has been deported five prior times. He also admitted to smuggling marijuana into the United States during past trips.
Felix Fernando Solis Morales (age 30 from Irapuato, Guanajuato, Mexico) said he has been illegally in the United States for the past two months. He paid the driver $50 for the ride. This was his first time in the United States.
Jose Antonio Lopez Moreno (age 24 from Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico) said he has been illegally in the United States for the past two months. He said he was told he owed money for the ride but had not paid it to the driver yet.
All six individuals were turned over to the United States Border Patrol.
Maria Bustamante said she works as an exotic dancer in Tucson. She said the father of her children was currently in jail in Texas. She was asked by a friend to give the six men a ride from Tucson to Phoenix. She planned to drop them off in Phoenix and keep driving to Texas. She knew all of the individuals were illegally in the United States.
Maria Bustamante was booked into the Pinal County Adult Detention Center for six counts of Human Smuggling a class 6 Felony. The vehicle and the $1,000 dollars she had in her possession was seized and paperwork is being completed for forfeiture proceedings.
Sheriff Paul Babeu said, “My deputies continue to do their job attempting to stop those who are involved with drug and human smuggling from traveling freely through the United States. Secretary Janet Napolitano who is responsible for America’s security has told Arizona law enforcement leaders the U.S. and Mexico border will never be secured. As a result of this failure, the continuous flow of humans and drugs continue to enter America.”