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Federal officials break up Guatemalan family smuggling ring in 3-state operation; 6 arrested

ALBUQUERQUE – Federal authorities have arrested six people for their alleged roles in a human smuggling ring that brought migrants from Guatemala to the United States, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Mexico said.

Alexander M.M. Uballez, U.S. Attorney for the District of New Mexico, and Francisco B. Burrola, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in El Paso, Texas, said Thursday the arrests followed the unsealing of a federal grand jury indictment on May 24.

“Today’s human smuggling organizations prey on the hope of Latin American migrants, targeting those who are most vulnerable for exploitation,” said Uballez. “To combat human smuggling we will dismantle networks, arrest leaders, and seize bank accounts.”

Authorities said the six were members of the Lopez Crime Family, which allegedly has smuggling operations in Guatemala, Mexico and the U.S. that use a series of coordinated transports, stash houses and directed electronic money transfers. Authorities said all are Guatemalans and members of the family or associated with it.

The arrests were made in Arizona and California through an operation that included law enforcement agencies in three states.

Homeland Security Investigations in New Mexico led the investigation and the prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Ramirez for the District of New Mexico.

If convicted, each faces up to 10 years in prison.