An American man was arrested for allegedly attempting to smuggle a woman across the U.S.-Mexico border in his suitcase. The 56-year-old Phoenix, Ariz. man was traveling in a Honda SUV across the border from Mexico to the United States at the Port of Nogales on Dec. 30. He was stopped by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers at the point of entry and his SUV was thoroughly searched.
The officers ultimately uncovered a 48-year-old Thai woman hiding beneath a pile of clothes inside one of the man’s suitcases, according to AZ Family. The Thai woman was turned over to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
According to the Polaris Project, an organization dedicated to fighting against human trafficking and slavery, they received calls concerning 9,298 unique cases of human trafficking from December 2007 to December 2012. Those statistics only explain the amount of cases that were reported to the group, and it’s likely that the actual number of human trafficking cases throughout the country is much higher.
The relationship between the Phoenix man and the Thai woman in his suitcase has still yet to be determined. The man could have been participating in illicit human trafficking due to a personal relationship with the woman, or he may play a part in some larger crime such as sex trafficking or labor trafficking, which constitute the majority of human trafficking cases.
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More details on the Arizona man's case should emerge in the coming months, as his vehicle was confiscated by the border authorities and he is facing federal human smuggling charges.