Thirteen motel owners in Mesa charged for catering to human smugglers and conspiracy to harboring illegal aliens were sentenced Friday.
According to documents released by the United State’s Attorney’s Office the owners of six motels on Main Street were sentenced with several different counts of probation, fines and forfeitures. The total combined criminal and civil forfeiture in the cases was $1.3 million, with a total of $46,500 imposed in fines.
According to reports, the motel owners rented rooms to undercover officers posing as human smugglers, offered advice on how to conceal smuggling activities and advised them to register under false identities to avoid attracting attention.
Authorities said a criminal probe conducted by U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement began officially targeting the Mesa motels in February of 2005.
The investigation began after ICE received several leads from community members. Agents from U.S Customs and Border Protection as well as the Mesa Police Department assisted in the investigation.
The motels in question include the Kiva Lodge Motel, HiWay Host Motel, Majestic Guest Inn, Roadrunner Motel, Westernaire Motel, and the Centebar Suites, authorities said.