Man arrested for human smuggling while driving 8 people through Beaver, Utah

Aug 23, 2023, 12:56 PM | Updated: 1:26 pm

FILE PHOTO - (Deseret News)...

FILE PHOTO - (Deseret News)

(Deseret News)

BEAVER, Utah — A man driving eight people through Utah to Denver has been arrested, suspected of human smuggling.

The man was identified as 24-year-old Jose Lopez Hernandez.

According to a probable cause affidavit, the investigation began on Aug. 22 when a detective in California contacted law enforcement in Beaver, Utah. The detective explained that an individual reported his girlfriend had possibly been taken.

The man said he didn’t know by whom or when but said he was pinging the cell phone for his girlfriend and the phone was passing through Utah.

Police located a silver Toyota Sienna with a California license plate traveling northbound on Interstate 15  in Beaver. Officers began to follow the vehicle and noticed it was following the semitruck in front of it too closely at which point they pulled over the car.

Police made contact with the driver and he provided them with his California license with the name Alexander Hernandez. Court documents state police were able to identify the license as “clearly false.” Police found eight occupants in the car, seven without seatbelts. When asked for their identification, none of them were able to provide a valid identification card from the U.S.

At this point, police asked the man to come to their patrol car where he was read his Miranda rights and agreed to talk. The man admitted he was being paid $500 to transport the individuals to Denver for work.  He said he was taking them to Denver where he would drop them off and return to California.

The driver admitted his real name was Jose Lopez Hernandez and that he had never received a driver’s license in the U.S.

Police arrested Hernandez and transported him to the Beaver County Jail where he was booked for human smuggling, possession of forged writing, driving without a valid license, and following too close.

Charges are only allegations, and every arrested person is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

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Man arrested for human smuggling while driving 8 people through Beaver, Utah