Utah Highway Patrol arrests 2 men for allegedly smuggling 7-year-old girl across country

Posted at 9:32 PM, Jun 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-14 00:13:06-04

IRON COUNTY, Utah — Two men were arrested over the weekend on suspicion of smuggling a 7-year-old girl across the country after being pulled over on I-15 in southern Utah.

Alejandro Marcos Carrillo-Lira, age 33, and Brandon Alexis Vargas Cardoso, 21, were booked on one first-degree felony count each of aggravated human smuggling.

The arresting officer, a Utah Highway Patrol trooper, said he pulled over a white Nissan Altima on Saturday for window tint that appeared to be darker than Utah law allows, as well as for a lane violation.

During the traffic stop, just north of Cedar City, the trooper said he "became suspicious of criminal activity." Another trooper brought a K-9 and conducted a sniff around the car, and the dog reportedly indicated the presence of narcotics, court documents state. Cardoso, who was the passenger, allegedly admitted that he smoked marijuana and that he didn't have a medical card. No drugs were found in the vehicle, however.

There was also a 7-year-old girl in the back seat, who Carrillo-Lira (the driver) initially claimed was his daughter. However, troopers said they noticed she had no extra clothes or personal belongings with her, and Carrillo-Lira later admitted that he and Cardoso were smuggling the girl across the country.

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A search was conducted on at least one of the men's phones, and police said this "confirmed that money was exchanged to smuggle the child across the country."

Both men were booked into jail, and the girl was placed in the custody of Utah Division of Child and Family Services.

Police said neither of the men have ties to Utah and are both from out of state. The car had Illinois license plates, but it was not provided what state they were from. They are both being held without bail.