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May 17, 2023Sells, AZ, United StatesHuman Smuggling/Trafficking

HSI Sells, multiagency investigation sends human smuggler to 101 months in prison for causing crash that killed passenger

TUCSON, Ariz. — A Phoenix area man was sentenced on May 4 to 96 months in prison, followed by five years of supervised release, for transporting noncitizens while on supervised release for the same offense. The federal judge further imposed a sentence of 5 months consecutively for the violation of supervised release. The investigation in this case was conducted by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in coordination with Customs and Border Protection’s United States Border Patrol, Ajo Station and the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

“Shameful and completely avoidable. Let this enhanced sentence serve as a warning to those looking to profit from illegally smuggling people into the United States — you will be caught,” said HSI Arizona Special Agent in Charge Scott Brown. “Further, I can’t emphasize enough, smugglers will promise whatever people want to hear. However, the reality is that those involved in organized crime are eager to take money and their reckless behavior can end deadly, as in this case.”

Andres Urias-Soto, 28, of Phoenix, Arizona, further pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Transport Illegal Aliens for Profit Resulting in Death and admitted to violating a condition of supervised release.

On June 17, 2021, Urias-Soto agreed to drive to Lukeville, Arizona, to pick up undocumented noncitizens who were illegally present in the United States. Urias-Soto was to be paid to transport them to another location within the United States. On that same date, United States Border Patrol agents observed Urias-Soto pick up two suspected undocumented noncitizens from a gas station and drive northbound on State Route 85 towards Interstate 8. When Border Patrol agents turned on their lights and sirens to conduct a traffic stop, Urias-Soto sped up, failed to yield to the agents and eventually reached speeds up to 110 MPH. Shortly thereafter, Urias-Soto lost control of the vehicle and crashed in the desert. One of the passengers succumbed to his injuries. The surviving passenger also sustained injuries.

Assistant United States Attorney Arturo Aguilar, United States Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, Tucson, handled the prosecution.

HSI is the principal investigative arm of 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.