Two men arrested in Moab on suspicion of human smuggling

A Grand County Sheriff’s officer found 11 individuals in a vehicle who had paid to be transported across the country.

Two men were arrested in Moab on Friday on suspicion of human smuggling after one allegedly admitted he’d been paid to transport 11 individuals to destinations across the country.

According to the probable cause statement, an officer with the Grand County Sheriff’s Department was conducting a traffic stop due to an “extremely dark window tint” when he noticed “quite a few passengers” in the back of the vehicle. When the officer asked for the van’s back window to be rolled down, he observed 10 individuals in the back two rows of the van, which made him suspicious of human smuggling.

While talking to the 32-year-old driver of the vehicle using Google translate, the man told the officer they were “going to work and they’re good people,” the documents state.

Some of the individuals the man was transporting appeared to be under the age of 18, the officer wrote, and everyone “seemed to be terrified” and wouldn’t speak to the officer. The man then admitted being paid $650 to “travel down” and “get people and bring them back.”

When the officer asked everyone to exit the vehicle, he noticed two more individuals crammed into the back who were not in seats, along with several urine bottles in the vehicle.

All 11 of the individuals in the vehicle, including a 15-year-old, are not from the U.S and had paid a fee to be transported to destinations across the country, the documents state.

Both men – the 32-year-old driver and the 38-year-old man in the van’s passenger seat — are currently being held without bail, according to court documents. The Utah Attorney General’s office said in a statement the 11 individuals were put up in a hotel Friday night in Moab.

Four individuals left on their own and seven accepted services from the Attorney General’s Office’s victim advocate, according to a statement from the office. Those seven are being transported to Salt Lake to be provided food and housing while the office works to reunite them with their extended families.

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