A Chandler woman was arrested southwest of Maricopa today for conspiracy to smuggle marijuana for sale and human trafficking.
At approximately 5:30 a.m., a Pinal County Sheriff’s office deputy on patrol noticed two vehicles traveling west on State Route 84 near the junction at Interstate 8.
As the deputy followed the vehicles, the lead vehicle, a 1997 Ford Expedition, turned east off SR 84 as the trailing vehicle, a 2004 Chevrolet sedan, fell behind. The deputy observed several other indicators that led him to believe the vehicles were involved in some type of smuggling operation.
When the deputy turned on his emergency lights to stop the Expedition, the SUV pulled off the roadway and two suspects fled into the desert. As the deputy secured the vehicle, he could see several bundles of marijuana, which weighed about 300 pounds.A short time later, the Chevrolet, driven by Carol Rivera of Chandler, passed the deputy and continued east. The deputy noticed the vehicle was full with at least eight people inside.
After issuing an alert on Rivera’s vehicle, an Ak-Chin Police Department officer located the sedan and initiated a traffic stop.
Six of the eight people inside were illegal immigrants from Mexico. Also in the vehicle was Rivera’s mother, who was the registered owner of the vehicle.
After interviewing Rivera, she, along with the six people who were found to be in the United States illegally, were arrested and turned over to the U.S. Border Patrol to face human smuggling charges.
“It’s very disheartening when we see someone, not only from our own country but also our community actively engaged in human and drug smuggling,” said Sheriff Paul Babeu. “I commend my deputy for his judgment and appreciate the Ak-Chin Police Department’s cooperation to help bringing Mrs. Rivera’s criminal activity to an end.”