Human smuggling organization leader sentenced to 10 years in prison

The leader of a human smuggling organization, who illegally transported over 100 Hondurans to the United States, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison, according to federal prosecutors.

Maria Mendoza-Mendoza, also known as La Guera, received a 120-month sentence from U.S. District Judge Raner Collins, along with three years of supervised release.

Mendoza-Mendoza faced accusations of coordinating a human smuggling organization. This organization had partners in Central America, Mexico, and the United States. Together, they facilitated the illegal entry, transportation, and harboring of migrants attempting to enter the United States.

In January 2018, the Justice Department brought charges against her, and she was later extradited from Honduras to the United States in June 2023.

Attorney General Merrick Garland expressed his strong condemnation of the defendant’s actions, highlighting the exploitation of vulnerable migrants for personal gain. He emphasized the significant risks posed to both the lives of these individuals and the national security of our country.

Federal prosecutors took into consideration several aggravating factors when determining Collins’ sentence. These factors included the smuggling of unaccompanied minors, the use of firearms, the creation of a risk of death, and the coercive detention of migrants for the purpose of demanding payment.

According to Francisco Burrola, the special agent in charge for HSI Arizona, human smuggling is a despicable crime that the defendant willingly engaged in for financial gain on more than 100 occasions.

During the Biden administration, Attorney General Garland highlighted the remarkable progress made by the Justice Department in bringing over 240 convictions against the most prolific and dangerous human smuggling groups. This signifies a significant effort to hold these groups accountable for their illegal activities.

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MBS Staff
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