21-year-old Phoenix human smuggler to spend 6 years in prison

A judge has sentenced a 21-year-old Phoenix man to more than six years in federal prison after he pleaded guilty to charges related to a human smuggling operation he was running that led to a fatal crash involving a driver he recruited via Snapchat.

Isaiah Lorenzo Brinkley had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to smuggle immigrants for profit that placed lives in jeopardy and resulted in death. He was sentenced by a federal judge in Tucson on Friday.

The charges stem from a January 2020 incident where a driver Brinkley recruited was carrying two Columbian immigrants fled from Border Patrol checkpoint near the southern Arizona community of Why.

Court documents and a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Arizona said the driver crashed his Honda Pilot after a short pursuit and the driver and one of the Columbian immigrants were killed. The surviving immigrant was seriously injured and records show the dead immigrant was their father.

Investigators determined that Brinkley was running the smuggling operation and recruited the driver via Snapchat, court records show. Brinkley admitted he was being paid about $3,900 per immigrant and up to $12,000 per trip to bring immigrants from the border to inland areas.

Brinkley had a previous misdemeanor conviction for smuggling immigrants, and was facing aggravated armed robbery charges when he was arrested.

Records also show he kept running the smuggling operation for several weeks after the fatal crash.

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