Arizona woman accused of human smuggling after undocumented immigrants were found at home, police say

Officials with the El Mirage Police Department say they have arrested a person in connection with human smuggling.

According to a statement released on Sept. 24, officers received a report of a person being held for ransom at a home near the intersection of El Mirage Road and Thunderbird Road on the night of Sept. 23.

"The complainant stated that in the residence there were multiple people being held against their will including her husband," read a portion of the statement.

Officials say when officers arrived, they saw a vehicle leaving the home.

KSAZ Tania Estudillo Hernandez 092422

Tania Estudillo Hernandez (Courtesy: El Mirage Police Department)

"The vehicle was stopped and a suspected human smuggler, Tania Estudillo Hernandez, 24, was arrested while transporting a Guatemalan national," read a portion of the statement.

Investigators say they discovered that 80 to 100 undocumented immigrants were held and/or processed in the home, monthly, for at least six months, and were charged as much as $15,000 in smuggling fees.

"The [El Mirage Police Department] learned that while conducting the traffic stop, two smugglers departed the home with 10 undocumented immigrants," read a portion of the statement.

Officials say a search warrant was served at the home. During the search, a semi-automatic rifle, two handguns, one of which was reported stolen out of Phoenix, and ammunition were seized. In addition, officers also found ledgers documenting human smuggling, as well as other evidence of human smuggling, including what officials say are evidence that Hernandez managed and directed the smuggling operations.

Hernandez, according to officials, was booked into the Maricopa County Jail for alleged kidnapping, money laundering, illegally conducting or participating in an illegal enterprise, and conspiracy.

"The [El Mirage Police Department] is working with the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement to further the investigation," read a portion of the statement. 

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