Jul 26, 2013 1:45 PM by Nikai Salcido

Trusted traveler charged with smuggling Mexico woman

NOGALES - A local man with "trusted-traveler" status was arrested Wednesday for attempting to smuggle a Mexican national into the United States.

The SENTRI membership of Juan Carlos Chavez, 27, was revoked after officers found a 34-year-old Mexican woman in the trunk of his Ford sedan.

Chavez had initially been referred for secondary inspection after being unable to open his trunk during an inspection.

It turned out the trunk did not have an internal release and the woman had to be removed by lowering the back seat.

The woman is being held as a material witness in the case and Chavez was transferred for federal prosecution.

SENTRI allows members access to a dedicated commuter lane that speeds up the inspection process for low-risk travelers.

Qualification for the program requires an extensive background check and in-person interview.

"SENTRI members are treated with a higher level of trust, but are not exempt from inspection," said Port Director Guadalupe Ramirez. "Violations, such as alien smuggling, will not be tolerated. Those attempting to exploit the program will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."


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