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2 men suspected of human smuggling after Grand County deputies find 12 people in van

Two men are facing several potential charges of aggravated kidnapping in connection with what the Grand County Sheriff's Office suspects is a case of human smuggling.

Two men are facing several potential charges of aggravated kidnapping in connection with what the Grand County Sheriff's Office suspects is a case of human smuggling. (KSL-TV)



Estimated read time: 1-2 minutes

MOAB — Two men are facing several potential charges of aggravated kidnapping in connection with what the Grand County Sheriff's Office suspects is a case of human smuggling.

On Friday morning, a Grand County sheriff's deputy made a traffic stop on U.S. 191 at the north end of Moab on a tan Toyota van with extremely dark window tint, according to a police booking affidavit.

As the deputy talked with the driver and front-seat passenger, identified in the document as Mauricio Esquivel Tellez and Abel Linares Alvarez, he noticed several other passengers in the back asked the driver to roll down a rear window.

"I observed four individuals in the middle back seat with two passengers laying on the floor," the deputy said in the affidavit. "In the third row, I observed four individuals."

The deputy also found two more people crammed into the back, the affidavit said.

The passengers in the vehicle "seemed to be terrified" and wouldn't speak to the deputy, he said. Some of the people appeared to be under the age of 18, including one who was later determined to be 15 years old, according to the affidavit.

The deputy spoke with the 12 people in the vehicle and determined none of them was from the U.S. and that they had "paid a fee to be transported to their destination(s) all over the United States," the affidavit said.

Tellez admitted that he was being paid $650 "to travel down and get people and bring them back," according to the affidavit.

Tellez and Alvarez were both taken into custody for investigation of 12 counts each of aggravated kidnapping. Tellez also faces an infraction charge for a window tint violation.

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