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Human Smuggling/Trafficking

Southern Arizona man charged after 2 Guatemalan sisters rescued from trailer

PHOENIX — A Douglas man faces federal charges following the Sunday night rescue of two Guatemalan sisters who allege he held them hostage, beat them and attempted to extort money from their family. The case is being investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), with significant assistance from the Cochise County Sheriff's Office, Douglas Police Department and U.S. Border Patrol.

Alejandro Beltran, 34, appeared in federal court Monday, where he was charged in a preliminary federal complaint with harboring aliens for the purpose of private financial gain.

HSI special agents were first alerted to the case Sunday evening after local law enforcement agencies requested federal assistance in investigating a possible hostage incident at a residence located in far north Douglas.

According to the criminal complaint, the Douglas Police Department received a call late Sunday afternoon from a person reporting that two adult undocumented Guatemalan sisters were being held against their will in north Douglas near Washington Street. While conducting surveillance in the area near the intersection of North Washington and 34th Street, authorities observed the door of a travel trailer open slightly, a woman's hand emerged, and then the door shut. When authorities knocked on the door to the trailer, the door opened and they discovered the two Guatemalan sisters inside.

The complaint states the women claimed they had been held captive for nine days and that Beltran had forced them to contact their family in Boston to demand $10,000 for their release. Both women claimed they were physically assaulted by Beltran, who they said had just left the trailer in a taxi. Douglas police subsequently located Beltran at the Frontera Bar and he was taken into custody.

The investigation is ongoing and the defendant may face additional charges. The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Arizona.

A criminal complaint is simply the method by which a person is charged with criminal activity and raises no inference of guilt. An individual is presumed innocent until competent evidence is presented to a jury that establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.