6 Guatemalans arrested in operation against human trafficking

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US authorities have arrested six people for their alleged involvement in a human smuggling ring that brought migrants from Guatemala to the United States, the federal prosecutor's office in New Mexico said.

Alexander MM Uballez, US attorney for the New Mexico district, and Francisco B. Burrola, special agent in charge of homeland security investigations in El Paso, Texas, said Thursday that the arrests followed the unsealing of an indictment of a grand jury on May 24.

“Today's human trafficking organizations take advantage of the hope of Latin American migrants and target those who are most vulnerable to exploitation,” said Uballez. "To combat human trafficking we will dismantle networks, arrest leaders and seize bank accounts."

According to authorities, the six detainees belonged to the Familia López criminal organization, which allegedly has human smuggling operations in Guatemala, Mexico and the United States and uses a series of coordinated transport, hideouts and electronic money transfers. Authorities said they are all Guatemalan and members of or associated with the family.

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

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

If found guilty, each of the detainees faces up to 10 years in prison.

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