SONOITA, AZ (Tucson News Now) - A Tucson woman is facing smuggling charges after three men who entered the country illegally were found in the trunk of a car on Thursday, July 20, during an immigration inspection north of Sonoita.
Agents from the Sonoita Station stopped a 1998 Toyota Camry to check the immigration status of the driver, who appeared to be traveling alone according to federal authorities.
A 56-year-old woman from South Tucson was arrested for smuggling and agents seized the vehicle. The three men will be charged with immigration violations.
"Further inspection of the Camry revealed there was no emergency trunk release," said U.S. Customs and Border Protection in a news release. "Even during monsoon season, Arizona's summer temperatures can climb dramatically when the sun comes out. Adding the possibilities of being crushed in a rear-end collision, or being poisoned by carbon monoxide, riding in the trunk of a vehicle could be equivalent to a death sentence."
Last month, the Tucson Sector Border Patrol renewed a longstanding program with Mexico with the implementation of new policy to prosecute human smugglers on both sides of the border.
"The program enables the prosecution of Mexican human smugglers, through Mexican courts, using information obtained via interviews conducted by Border Patrol agents while in U.S. custody," said CBP in a news release.
CBP said the program was postponed this past year due to a change in Mexican federal court procedural directives.
"Working together the Government of Mexico and the U.S. target human smugglers praying on vulnerable migr ants along the common border," said CBP.
In fiscal year 2016, Tucson Sector Border Patrol submitted 143 human smugglers to the government of Mexico to see if they could be up for prosecution in their court system.