PHOENIX - Two Mexican children who were separated from their mother while being smuggled into the United States were reunited with her a short time later owing to the quick actions of federal, state and local law enforcement authorities here Wednesday afternoon.
The children's mother was encountered and arrested at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Border Patrol checkpoint north of Sierra Vista, Ariz., Wednesday morning. Authorities learned the woman's 8-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter were traveling in a separate vehicle that had already cleared the checkpoint.
Agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) immediately responded to the checkpoint. HSI agents in other parts of Arizona were also notified and immediately began attempts to locate a white extended cab pick-up truck believed to be carrying the children.
HSI agents were able to determine the vehicle was in the area of Casa Grande, Ariz., traveling towards Phoenix. HSI notified the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) and local police departments and requested assistance in finding the vehicle.
At 5:45 p.m.., DPS officers located the vehicle on Interstate 10 just south of Phoenix. The children were found in the vehicle unharmed.
HSI agents responded and took the female pick-up truck driver and her male passenger into custody. The two are expected to face federal charges at a later date. The children were reunited with their mother hours later and were voluntarily returned to Mexico.
"The outcome of this case demonstrates HSI's commitment to enforcing the law and bringing to justice those who viciously exploit others for their personal gain," said Matt Allen, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Arizona. "The safety of the children and reuniting them with their mother was of paramount importance to all of the agents involved in this case."
The driver of the vehicle carrying the mother of the children faces federal charges for alien smuggling and fleeing an immigration checkpoint.