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Video Games Are Being Used To Recruit Drug Smugglers In Arizona

Federal officials say criminal enterprises are now finding people to smuggle drugs or engage in human trafficking by recruiting them while playing online games that typically have chatrooms. One of those people was revealed in federal court documents, as Alyssa Michelle Navarro, a 25-year-old from Phoenix, Arizona. She was arrested in the Luckeville Port of entry last November with nearly 130 pounds of liquid meth hidden in the car’s gas tank, investigators said. 

The federal complaint filed against Navarro alleges that she told agents “That in approximately January 2021, she met a man with the user name ‘georgebrr’ through Grand Theft Auto, an online gaming platform.” Navarro and George moved their conversation to Snapchat and met in person multiple times, investigators said. While talking on Snapchat, Navarro allegedly told authorities George randomly messaged her one day and asked if she wanted to make money and work as a “runner” to transport the merchandise, such as electronics, from Phoenix to Mexico, court records said. Navarro was said to earn $1,000 to $2,000 per trip, depending on the “load,” the government said.

Long story short, Navarro has been charged with conspiracy to import and sell methamphetamine, and possession. She has pleaded not guilty. Her trial is scheduled for February.

The sales pitch works because recruiters promise an easy job that pays a lot of money, said Jesus Vasavilbaso, Border Patrol spokesperson for the Tuscon sector. “Anybody that’s 16 and over that already has a driver’s license is a target to get recruited for doing smuggling,” he said. “People from the Phoenix area are heavily being recruited.”

(All information was provided by KPNX 12 News)

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