Chandler woman charged for smuggling children - East Valley Tribune: News

Chandler woman charged for smuggling children

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Posted: Thursday, June 5, 2008 10:01 pm | Updated: 9:09 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

A Chandler woman who smuggled three children into the U.S. was sentenced to 18 months in prison.

Leeann Ortiz, 28, pleaded guilty before a Tucson court to conspiracy to transport illegal immigrants for profit.

According to court documents, Ortiz attempted to enter the U.S. on Jan. 18, 2007, with three minor children, two boys, ages 6 and 7, and an 11-year-old girl.

Ortiz told the Customs and Border Protection officials that the children were hers and presented her own children's birth certificates, Social Security cards and other documents on their behalf. Officials became suspicious and referred Ortiz and the children to further inspection.

During questioning the children stated their true names and admitted that they were going to join their father and brother who had been living in the U.S. illegally for some time. The children were turned over to the custody of the Mexican Consulate and were eventually reunited with their family, according to court documents.

Ortiz and her mother and co-defendant, Otelia Villarreal Larios, were charged in federal court in Tucson with conspiracy to transport illegals for financial gain and other federal human smuggling charges, officials said.

Larios pleaded guilty to all charges and is scheduled to be sentenced July 10.

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