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Major figure in Human Smuggling Organization arrested by IIMPACT sentenced to 42 years in prison

Eleven others in organization also convicted on felony charges

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 -

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On May, 25, 2010, Victor Manuel Castillo-Estobar, 26, a Mexican National, was sentenced to 42 years in prison after being convicted at the conclusion of a jury trial held in March on charges of participating in or assisting a criminal syndicate (ARS 13-2308), a class two felony, along with several other felony charges.

Castillo-Estobar was arrested by IIMPACT investigators on February, 2, 2009, following a nine-month investigation into a human smuggling organization. Castillo-Estobar was a big part of the organization. Eleven others were also arrested as being a part of the same organization. One of those arrested received an eleven-year prison sentence, four received seven-year prison sentences, one received a three-year prison sentence, and three received three-year probation sentences which were all a part of a plea agreement with prosecutors. Two others have not yet been sentenced, which sentencing is set for next month.

Castillo-Estobar rented houses which were used as drop houses, took out utilities, and also transported kidnapped immigrants to various houses. Castillo-Estobar directed guards working for him in these drop houses and ran the day-to-day operations of this particular organization which kidnapped and held immigrants for ransom and used violence and threats of death to extort money from victim’s families.

IIMPACT served search warrants at the following locations which were used by Castillo-Estobar as drop houses or in the furtherance of this human smuggling organization.

  • Date: May, 30, 2008
  • 8525 W. Elm St. Phoenix, Ariz. (drop house)
  • 6612 W. Watkins, Phoenix, Ariz. (drop house: ICE / IIMPACT investigation)

  • Date: August, 13, 2008
  • 2318 W. Thomas, Phoenix, Ariz. (apt. used as residence and operations for Castillo-Estobar)
  • 4021 N. 27th Ave. Phoenix, Ariz. (drop house)
  • 8819 W. Encanto Blvd. Phoenix, Ariz. (drop house)

  • Date: February, 5, 2009
  • 3105 W. Jefferson, Phoenix, Ariz. (used as residence and operations for Castillo-Estobar, where he was arrested)
  • 3224 W. Wilson, Phoenix, Ariz. (drop house)
The following is a list of all convicted persons involved with this human smuggling organization:

  1. Victor Manuel Castillo-Estobar, 26, Male, of Mexico, 42 years imprisonment in the Department of Corrections (DOC).

  1. Andres Valinte-Toban, 30, Male, of Mexico, 11 years DOC.

  1. Sergio Barajas Montano, 44, Male, of Mexico, 7 years DOC.

  1. Rodolfo Molinero-Martinez, 24, Male, of Mexico, 7 years DOC.

  1. Rosario Horacio Higueura-Carmona, 31, Male, of Mexico, 7 years DOC.

  1. Jesus Humberto Perez-Avila, 29, Male, of Mexico, 7 years DOC.

  1. Samuel Martinez Casteneda, 24, Male, of Mexico, 3 years DOC.

  1. Jose Angel Hernandez-Ramirez, 26, Male, of Mexico, 3 years probation.

  1. Ana Gabriel Arriaga-Ortiz, 22, Female, of Mexico, 3 years probation.

  1. Edgardo Juarez Juarez, 34, Male, of Mexico, 3 years probation.

  1. Eva Maria Betanzos Gomez, 36, Female, of Mexico, (sentence not yet set).

  1. Manuel Roman Escobedo, 24, Male, of Mexico, (sentence not yet set).

IIMPACT (Illegal Immigration Prevention & Apprehension Co-op Team) is a multi-agency project managed by GIITEM of the Arizona Department of Public Safety that is designed to “deter, disrupt and dismantle violent criminal organizations profiting from human smuggling.” In most IIMPACT cases, crimes of kidnapping, extortion, assault and human smuggling are prevalent. IIMPACT is comprised of investigators from the Phoenix Police Department, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS).

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The Arizona Department of Public Safety is a state-level law enforcement agency whose mission is to protect human life and property by enforcing state laws, deterring criminal activity and providing vital support to the State of Arizona and its citizens.