/ Modified jun 23, 2023 4:38 p.m.

U.S. officials extradite alleged smuggling boss from Honduras

Officials charged Maria Mendoza-Mendoza aka “La Guera” with human smuggling and money laundering, , primarily withdrawn around Phoenix.

Federal courthouse The Evo A. DeConcini U.S. Courthouse, 405 W. Congress Street in Tucson.
Nick O'Gara/AZPM

A Hondurian woman appeared in court in Tucson Friday after being extradited to the U.S. on charges related to human smuggling and money laundering.

Maria Mendoza-Mendoza, also known as “Guera,” was extradited from Honduras on charges of human smuggling and money laundering that could garner a 40 year jail sentence and $1 million in fines.

Officials allege that Mendoza is a high-level human smuggling coordinator responsible for facilitating the entry, transport and harboring of numerous unauthorized migrants as well as collecting smuggling fees.

The smuggling organization is alleged to have collected millions in smuggling fees from across the U.S., primarily withdrawn in the Phoenix area.

Joint Task Force Alpha handled the extradition, a federal partnership created to enhance U.S. enforcement efforts against human smuggling groups operating in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, says U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona Gary Restaino.

“We’re targeting leaders,” he said during a press conference Friday. “Leaders of organizations to disrupt their command and control networks. We’re focused on partnerships, the critical partnerships with our sovereign neighbors down south, and we’re prioritizing subjects who abuse, exploit and endanger the economic migrants seeking a better life here in America.”

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