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Tucson woman sentenced for smuggling undocumented immigrant, fentanyl

Tried running away from Border Patrol
Posted at 10:28 AM, Mar 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-22 13:30:04-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, Tucson has sentenced Yesenia Isabel Mendez, 40, to 57 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release.

U.S. District Judge Jennifer G. Zipps announced the sentence Friday with the following convictions:

  • One count of possession with intent to distribute fentanyl
  • One count of conspiracy to transport illegal aliens for profit while placing in jeopardy the life of any person

Multiple arrests lead to Mendez's sentencing.

In August 2020, Border Patrol arrested her for carrying nearly half a pound of fentanyl hidden on her body while she rode as a passenger on a van coming from Mexico.

Because Mendez didn't have a criminal history, authorities released her pending resolution of her case.

She pleaded guilty in October 2020. However, in January 2021, she absconded from her pretrial supervision, before her sentencing could take place.

Authorities then arrested Mendez again in March 2021 for human smuggling.

This time, she tried getting away from Border Patrol, but the car she and her co-defendant were traveling in crashed into a concrete wash.

Mendez, the co-defendant and the undocumented immigrant they were attempting to cross illegally were all injured.

She then pleaded guilty to the human smuggling offense in June 2021.

Caleb Fernández is a digital content producer for KGUN 9. After earning his bachelor's degree from Penn State in Advertising/Public Relations, Caleb went to New York where he learned production assistance, photography and art direction. Share your story ideas and important issues with Caleb by emailing or by connecting on LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter.