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Human smuggling suspects formally charged

Bust happened on Monday, Oct. 23 in Yuma on the corner of 8th St. and Ave A

YUMA, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY) - Two men were formally charged by complaint after being accused of smuggling 22 undocumented immigrants in the tank of a water truck.

Antonio Varela-Verdugo, a U.S. citizen, and Gilberto Villalva, a citizen of Mexico, were charged on Wednesday, October 25.

The Attorney's Office said the complaint alleges that both men conspired to smuggle 22 undocumented noncitizens in the tank of a water truck.

Yuma Sector Border Patrol agents followed the water tank suspected of transporting the noncitizens in its tank from California into Yuma, Arizona on Monday, Oct. 23.

The water tank stopped at a local residence.

According to the Attorney's Office, across the street, a Honda Civic driven by Villalva was suspected of waiting to guide the water truck to a local stash-house.

Agents stopped both vehicles after leaving the stash house and found 22 people who were citizens of Mexico and were stuffed into the tank of the water truck.

If both men are convicted, they could face a maximum penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $250K along with three years of probation.

No word on the condition of the immigrants or where they were taken.

The Attorney's Office said Customs and Border Protection's Yuma Border Patrol conducted the interdiction and investigation in the case.

The United States Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, Phoenix Division, Yuma Office, is handling the prosecution.

Article Topic Follows: Crime

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