Tucson Woman Indicted for Alien Smuggling Leading to Death

TUCSON, Ariz. – On Tuesday, Michelle Sunshine Betters, 44, from Tucson, Arizona, appeared telephonically in federal court on charges relating to the transportation of illegal aliens while placing a person’s life in jeopardy, causing bodily injury, and resulting in death. Betters was previously indicted on three counts by a federal grand jury. The district court ordered Betters detained pending trial, which is scheduled for September 8.

“These events highlight the incredibly dangerous nature of human smuggling attempts,” said Acting United States Attorney Glenn B. McCormick. “Illegally transporting non-citizens is hazardous for all involved – the transporter, the non-citizens, and the general public. The possibility of a tragedy is always present, and it sadly became a reality this time.”

On June 3, 2021 the Tohono O’odham Police Department responded to a two-vehicle crash on State Route 86. The investigation revealed that Betters was driving a car that sideswiped a truck, then left the roadway and struck a tree. There were two other passengers in the car, both of whom were determined to be undocumented non-citizens. One of the non-citizens was declared deceased at the scene, and the other was transported to the hospital to be treated for various injuries.

“Unfortunately, this is yet another example of the dangers of human smuggling resulting in a tragic death,” said special agent in charge, Scott Brown for HSI Phoenix. “HSI is committed to investigating these human smuggling organizations that prey on the vulnerable and have no regard for the sanctity of life. We will stop at nothing to bringing those involved to face justice.”

An indictment is simply a method by which a person is charged with criminal activity and raises no inference of guilt. An individual is presumed innocent until evidence is presented to a jury that establishes guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

The Tohono O’odham Police Department and Homeland Security Investigations are conducting the investigation in this case. The Tucson Office of the United States Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, is handling the prosecution.

CASE NUMBER:            CR 21-01526-SHR (BGM)

RELEASE NUMBER:    2021- 046_Betters

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For more information on the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, visit http://www.justice.gov/usao/az/
Follow the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, on Twitter @USAO_AZ for the latest news.

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