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November 17, 2023Douglas, AZ, United StatesHuman Smuggling/Trafficking

HSI Douglas case sends woman to 12 months in prison for role as social media recruiter for human smuggling

DOUGLAS, Ariz. – A young Phoenix woman was sentenced on Nov. 7 to 12 months and one day in prison, followed by three years of supervised release for her involvement as a social media recruiter for human smuggling. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) – Douglas office conducted the investigation in this case.

“Human smuggling is a felony. This young woman now must identify herself as a criminal on every job application for the rest of her life. Let this be a lesson to those considering participating in illegal activities such as human smuggling. It’s simply not worth it,” said HSI Arizona Special Agent in Charge Scott Brown.

Destiney Rae Montoya, 22, of Phoenix, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transport illegal aliens for profit on Aug. 16. The offense includes a sentencing enhancement for being a coordinator.

Between 2021 and 2022, Montoya used social media to solicit and advertise for drivers to assist with smuggling undocumented noncitizens further into the United States after their arrival. HSI special agents executed multiple warrants enabling them to trace Montoya’s illegal conduct and communications to establish her as a coordinator.

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

HSI Arizona continues to address the serious public safety threat posed by human smuggling organizations and their reckless disregard for the health and safety of the people they exploit. To report suspicious smuggling activity, you are urged to call 866-348-2423.

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.