22 people in Arizona accused of using Snapchat as human smuggling recruiting method

Nearly two dozen people are being charged in connection to a human smuggling recruitment scheme in Arizona, federal officials said.

The United States Attorney's Office, District of Arizona, announced on Aug. 22 the recent unsealing of 13 indictments, charging 22 people with conspiracy to transport illegal aliens for profit.

The suspects are accused of using social media, including Snapchat, "to recruit individuals in Arizona to transport undocumented noncitizens for money."

"After recruiting the drivers on social media, the coordinators often switched to a messenger application such as WhatsApp to coordinate the logistics," officials said in a news release. "Smuggling coordinators often recruit juveniles and young adults as drivers with social media posts that glamorize alien smuggling."

Officials say the social media posts claimed drivers could make large amounts of money without the risk of arrest.

The suspects were eventually identified through cellphone data and their social media accounts.

Officials say a conviction of conspiracy to transport illegal aliens for profit carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and up to three years of supervised release.