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4 volunteers with migrant aid group settle charges, 1 awaiting trial

Posted at 3:19 PM, Feb 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-21 17:23:34-05

TUCSON, Ariz. — Four volunteers with a group that offers humanitarian aid to migrants near the southern border will not go to trial for wildlife refuge law violations.

The four volunteers work with the Tucson-based group No More Deaths, which leaves food and water in the desert for migrants who illegally cross the southern in the harsh Sonoran Desert. The volunteers facing charges had left supplies in the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, which federal prosecutors say they did without proper permits. They were arrested and charged in July 2017.

According to court records, the group of four defendants reached a settlement with the U.S. Attorney's office Thursday. A press release from the group says the volunteers were issued civil infractions and each agreed to pay a $250 fine.

One other volunteer with the group, Scott Warren, is still awaiting trial. He's facing more serious charges, including a felony charge for harboring migrants who crossed the border illegally, and could be sentenced to years in prison.

Four other volunteers with the group went to trial in January and were convicted by a federal judge. The defendants had argued they were being unfairly targeted by an administration hostile to their work. Prosecutors argued they were interfering with the Border Patrol's duties and damaging the protected ecosystem in abandoning their personal property there. A sentencing hearing is set for March 1.