NEW: Leader of human smuggling ring admits to bringing over 1,000 illegal immigrants into Phoenix

The Mexican national was sentenced to 7 1/2 years in prison for smuggling over 1,000 illegal aliens into Phoenix, Arizona.


The leader of a human trafficking ring who was sentenced to prison has confessed to smuggling over 1,000 illegal immigrants across the southern border into Phoenix, Arizona, highlighting the ongoing crisis of illegal immigration plaguing states along the southern border. 

Martin Garcia-Velazquez, also known as "Tucan," was sentenced to 7 ½ years in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to transport and harbor illegal aliens for profit, according to the US District Attorney’s office in Arizona. In addition to his prison term, the Mexican national was sentenced to 35 months of supervised release and ordered to pay a mandatory special assessment of $5,000. 

During his admission, Garcia-Velazquez revealed that he orchestrated the transportation of illegal immigrants from the Mexico border to various houses in and around Phoenix, implicating himself as a key player in the illicit human trafficking operation

Further investigation by the Department of Justice uncovered the involvement of three co-conspirators who were previously prosecuted in October. The extensive multi-year probe, led by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents, resulted in the seizure and forfeiture of over $1 million in illicit proceeds, along with five firearms and five vehicles. 

“This prosecution is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.” emphasized the DOJ in a statement

The Arizona-Mexico border has become a hotspot for border crossings. In the first four months of fiscal year 2024, Border Patrol has apprehended over 250,000 migrants near Tucson. This number marks the highest of any region along the southern border that Border Patrol oversees. 

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