Third Person Charged with Murder in U-Haul Immigrant Smuggling Ring
PCSO One immigrant died while being transported in a U-Haul truck to Phoenix.
A third person has been charged in the murder of an immigrant who died after he and eight others were transported in a U-Haul, where temperatures are believed to have reached 180 degrees.
Police say they found text messages and a U-Haul rental agreement that link Yolanda Banda, 48, to the smuggling operation that killed the man. Authorities also believe she and her boyfriend helped operate a smuggling ring that regularly shuttled immigrants from Douglas to Phoenix.
She is being charged with unlawful transport of an alien, smuggling humans for profit, and second-degree murder in connection with the death earlier this month.
On July 7, deputies responded to a call near the Bowlins Travel Center near Interstate 10 and Picacho Peak from someone who said they saw several people fall out of the truck after it had parked and the driver opened the back door.
The Sheriff's Office believes there were more than a dozen people crammed in the truck. Emergency responders treated many in the group for dehydration, fatigue, and heatstroke, which caused vomiting, loss of bowel control, and unconsciousness.
Two people were emergency airlifted, and ambulances carried six others to local hospitals.
Three days later, deputies learned that one of the U-Haul occupants, Rigoberto Gijosa, died while on life support.