5 Charged in Connection to Human Smuggling in Ariz.

June 6, 2012
Five people are facing charges in their alleged roles in what a Yuma prosecutor describe as a large-scale human smuggling operation.

June 06--Five people are facing charges in their alleged roles in what a Yuma prosecutor describe as a large-scale human smuggling operation.

Enrique Saucedo, Joel Torres, Iris Hernandez, Fran Saucedo and Rolando Charles were all back in a Yuma courtroom Tuesday for a hearing in which they were told that criminal complaints were filed against them, charging each of them with one count of participating in a human smuggling operation.

The Saucedos were also charged with an additional offense of assisting a human smuggling operation.

Speaking during Enrique Saucedo's arraignment, prosecutor Nathaniel Sorenson, of the Yuma County Attorney's Office, asked the court to impose a $500,000 bond on him, saying his release would affect an ongoing investigation into the smuggling operation.

Sorenson also told the court that authorities believe Enrique Saucedo is one of the principle members of the organization and that if the bond was set at a lower amount he may be able to post it. He added that Saucedo, who is from Mexico, would possibly flee the country if released.

Justice of the Peace Greg Stewart, who presided over all of the defendants' hearings, granted the prosecution's request, resetting Saucedo's bond to $500,000, up from $200,000.

Stewart also increased Torres and Charles' bonds to $100,000, up from $75,000, and Fran Saucedo's to $100,000 from $20,000.

Hernandez, however, was denied bond after Sorenson told the court that she had been arrested on the latest charges while out on bail for similar offenses. According to court records, Hernandez has a case pending against her in Yuma County Superior Court in which she has been charged with participating in a human smuggling organization, use of an electronic communication device during a drug transaction and five counts of human smuggling.

In addition to setting the defendants' next court dates, preliminary hearings, for June 11 and 12 at 4 p.m., Stewart also appointed court-appointed attorneys to represent Torres, Charles and Hernandez. The Saucedos indicated they would be hiring their own counsel.

Yuma police, with the assistance of agents from the Yuma Sector Border Patrol, arrested all five suspects in separate but connected incidents on Thursday and Friday in which they were allegedly trying to help Mexican citizens enter the country illegally.

According to Yuma police, the first incident happened Thursday night at about 10 p.m. in the 1100 block of 16th Street. In that incident, Jose Torres Jr. was found hiding near the railroad tracks in the area with two illegal entrants.

Torres Sr., Hernandez and Charles were also found at different locations throughout the same area and had been using their cell phones to communicate with Torres Jr. The two illegal entrants were turned over to the Border Patrol, while Torres Sr., Charles and Hernandez were arrested and booked into the Yuma County jail. Torres Jr. remains in custody at the Yuma County Youth Detention Center.

The second incident happened at about 9 p.m. Friday and involved the Saucedos, who are father and son. The father, Enrique Saucedo, is from Mexico, while his son Fran Saucedo is a California resident.

In that incident YPD conducted a traffic stop on Enrique Saucedo, who was driving his son's car, in the vicinity of Arizona Avenue and 11th Street. There were also four passengers in the vehicle with him.

Two of the passengers ran from the vehicle, one of whom was caught. That passenger, and two others who remained in the vehicle, were later determined to have been in the country illegally and turned over to the Border Patrol.

Both Saucedos were booked into the Yuma County jail.

Copyright 2012 - The Sun, Yuma, Ariz.

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