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Tucson man sentenced to 10 years for human smuggling after HSI Sells investigation

Human RightsTucson man sentenced to 10 years for human smuggling after HSI Sells investigation

TUCSON, Ariz. — On April 6, a judge sentenced a Southern Arizona man to 120 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release for his involvement in human smuggling. The sentence follows a Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and U.S. Border Patrol probe with assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Adrian Duran-Estrada, 39, of Tucson, was also ordered to pay a $200 special assessment and a $20,000 money judgment. Duran-Estrada pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transport illegal aliens and unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

“It’s well known that human smuggling is dangerous, but when convicted criminals are involved, the already treacherous journey north has a higher chance of turning deadly,” said HSI Arizona Special Agent in Charge Scott Brown. “People really need to understand what lies ahead of them when placing their lives in a human smuggler’s hands — besides being greedy, smugglers have no regard for anyone’s life.”

From at least May 2019 through May 2021, Duran-Estrada conspired with co-defendants to transport undocumented noncitizens in Southern Arizona. As the coordinator and leader of the conspiracy, he used WhatsApp, text messages and voice calls to coordinate undocumented noncitizens’ movement. Examples of Duran-Estrada’s actions in furtherance of the conspiracy include:

On May 30, 2019, Duran-Estrada coordinated the transport of 10 undocumented noncitizens who were later apprehended by Border Patrol agents on Highway 286 near Sasabe, Arizona. Later the same day, a juvenile co-conspirator became lost and died in the desert east of Highway 286 while attempting to guide another group of undocumented noncitizens at Duran-Estrada’s direction.
Approximately one week later, on June 7, 2019, Duran-Estrada coordinated with co-defendant Bruce Rivera to pick up two undocumented noncitizens near San Miguel, Arizona. He provided Rivera with GPS coordinates to locate the two individuals. Rivera traveled to a location near San Miguel intending to pick up the two undocumented noncitizens, but Border Patrol agents stopped him before he was able to do so.
On July 23, 2019, Duran-Estrada coordinated with co-defendants Kaitlan Cox and Arturo Alday Cordova to pick up a group of undocumented noncitizens near Sasabe, Arizona.

In addition, a May 4, 2021, search of his residence revealed evidence that in November 2020, Duran-Estrada knowingly possessed a .22-caliber rifle that he used to poach a deer on the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge. At the time Duran-Estrada possessed the firearm, he was a convicted felon, having previously been convicted of two separate felony offenses.

Duran-Estrada’s co-defendants, Kaitlan Cox and Arturo Alday Cordova were previously convicted of conspiracy to transport illegal aliens. Bruce Rivera was previously convicted of attempted transportation of illegal aliens. Cox was sentenced to 27 months in prison; Cordova was sentenced to eight months in prison; and Rivera was sentenced to a term of three years’ probation.

The United States Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, Tucson, handled the prosecution.

HSI is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel and finance move. HSI’s workforce of more than 8,700 employees consists of more than 6,000 special agents assigned to 237 cities throughout the United States, and 93 overseas locations in 56 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are independent views solely of the author(s) expressed in their private capacity.

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