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February 13, 2024Phoenix, AZ, United StatesHuman Smuggling/Trafficking

HSI Phoenix sends human-smuggling driver to prison

PHOENIX — A Phoenix area man was sentenced Jan. 28 to 24 months in prison followed by 36 months of supervised release for his involvement in human smuggling. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) investigated the case.

“Human smugglers knowingly and willingly make their profits by circumventing our nation’s immigration laws,” said HSI Arizona Special Agent in Charge Francisco B. Burrola. “HSI will continue to identify and arrest human smugglers to face justice for unlawfully bringing migrants through Central America and into the United States.”

Dinero Devon Washington, 46, of Phoenix, further pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transport noncitizens on Sept. 7, 2023.

The case began on April 16, 2021, when Washington and his co-conspirator, Alina Pablo, arrived at the fixed U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint in Ajo. Washington and his co-conspirator were driving a Ford F-150. Border Patrol agents noted five other passengers in the vehicle — all carrying backpacks and wearing camouflaged clothing with carpeting on their shoes, which indicated that they recently crossed the border between Mexico and the United States. Questioning confirmed that all five passengers were citizens and nationals of Mexico or Guatemala without permission to enter the United States and had recently been picked up by Washington and Pablo.

Subsequent searches of Washington’s cellphone revealed detailed evidence of the planning and logistics of the smuggling effort, including pin drops, maps and text messages. Pablo pleaded guilty to her role in the offense and will be sentenced later this year.

Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona in Yuma Louis Uhl prosecuted the case.

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’ largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.