LOS ANGELES (Reuters)—U.S. immigration officials said on Thursday they had dismantled a Guatemalan human smuggling ring that brought more than 100 illegal immigrants a week into the Los Angeles area.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said 13 people, including two of the suspected ringleaders, face charges in connection with what officials described as one of the largest human smuggling operations uncovered on the West Coast in recent years.
According to court documents, immigration agents uncovered an organization run by Guatemalan nationals that provided housing and transport to immigrants who had already been smuggled across the U.S.-Mexico border to Phoenix.
The immigrants were taken from Arizona to the Los Angeles area where they were held in drop houses before being loaded onto vehicles and driven to U.S. cities around the nation.
The immigrants, mostly from Central America, paid the organization between $1,200 and $3,700 each for the journey.