EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – A man is facing multiple federal charges after bringing a woman he met online and her young son on an alleged migrant smuggling run through Southern Arizona.
Derek White, of Chandler, told federal officials he was contacted by text message by a man nicknamed “Chino” last month to pick up several undocumented migrants near Sells, Arizona. White allegedly was to be paid $1,100 for each individual he managed to drive to an undisclosed location in Phoenix.
Court records show the smuggler later changed the pick-up location to Sierra Vista, 10 miles north of the border wall, and that White allegedly asked his online acquaintance to accompany him so they could “blend in.”
Records show the woman showed up with her 4-year-old son and at some point took over driving the black Ford Fusion that would carry the migrants. The vehicle aroused suspicions from U.S. Border Patrol agents as it traveled away from the border dusty and with its rear close to the ground as if carrying too much weight.
The Border Patrol stopped the vehicle on State Road 92 and a man immediately opened the rear door and started running as the agents heard someone inside shout, “¡Córrele! (Run!).” The agents caught the man and discovered a total of four unauthorized foreign nationals wearing camouflage clothing in the backseat and trunk of the Fusion, court records show.
Authorities identified the driver as Alexandra Madeline Guyton; White was in the front passenger seat and had the 4-year-old boy on his lap, unrestrained, records show.
In an interview after the arrest, White allegedly told investigators that six foreign nationals approached the vehicle near the border but only four managed to get in, and that “Chino” not only changed where he was to pick up the migrants but also downgraded his pay to $1,000 per individual.
The detained migrants – identified as citizens of Mexico – told authorities they paid $2,000 upfront to be brought across and were to pay another $9,000 once they reached their destination in the interior of the United States.
On Wednesday, a federal grand jury in Tucson charged both White and Guyton with one count of conspiracy and two counts of transporting illegal aliens for profit in connection with the Sept. 14 alleged smuggling event.
According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Tucson Sector of the Border Patrol was the busiest in the nation in terms of undocumented migrant apprehensions in August, with 48,764 individuals taken into custody. The Del Rio Sector was second with 46,536 apprehensions.