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HURRICANE, Washington County — A traffic stop in Hurricane led to federal charges against a Mexican national for allegedly smuggling an SUV full of people into the United States last month.
Including the driver, the Toyota Sequoia contained 12 people, all of whom were in the U.S. illegally, according to complaint filed in U.S. District Court on Thursday. The vehicle was equipped with an aftermarket air suspension system to make it look like it wasn't overloaded, the complaint said.
The occupants told federal agents they paid between $2,000 and $5,000 to be smuggled across the border near Nogales, Ariz., and then driven to various destinations including Washington state and Los Angeles, according to the complaint.
The driver told authorities he knew the passengers were in the U.S. illegally and that he told them not to get out of the SUV when police stopped it because they did not have papers, the complaint said. He also told agents he has been deported previously.
Jose Dimas Sanchez-Patino faces charges of transporting illegal aliens and aiding and abetting.