Smugglers arrested for transporting immigrants |

Smugglers arrested for transporting immigrants

A passenger van loaded down with 15 illegal immigrants was stopped on Interstate 80 in Summit County on June 1. The two drivers are being charged with transportation of illegal aliens.

A Utah Highway Patrol trooper observed a white Ford van that appeared to be overloaded traveling slowly in the eastbound lanes near Echo. A traffic stop revealed that two paid drivers were taking turns driving the immigrants from the Los Angeles area to drop off points in various places including New York City. The immigrants were from Mexico and Guatemala.

According to UHP Trooper Jeff Nigbur, the drivers had been paid to transport the immigrants by a "coyote." The occupants of the van were taken to the Summit County Justice Center where they were turned over to authorities from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), he said.

ICE Assistant Special Agent in Charge Joe Romel confirmed that two drivers and 15 illegals had been detained for processing in Murray. He said that all of the passengers were adult males except for one juvenile who was accompanied by an uncle. The U.S. Attorney’s office will investigate the two drivers, one of which, Romel said, admitted to making the same trip previously.

Romel added that he suspects similar incidents are taking place on local highways "more than once a day" but that they are rarely stopped.

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