A woman claimed she was just being a Good Samaritan, when deputies found 11 illegal immigrants and 45 pounds of pot in her SUV during a traffic stop.
Janette Salido-Hernandez, 29, of Mexico, was stopped at about 10:15 a.m. Friday along State Route 347 at mile marker 182 near the City of Maricopa, Tim Gaffney, spokesman for the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office, said in a news release.
Along with Salido-Hernandez, deputies noted there was a man in the front passenger seat and three other men in the back seat of the Ford Explorer.
In the cargo compartment behind the seats, deputies noticed “a blanket which was spread out, yet the blanket kept moving,” Gaffney said.
On further inspection, deputies found another seven men hiding under the blanket along with a bundle of marijuana. Another pot bundle was found on the floor of the front passenger seat, Gaffney said.
All 11 men admitted they were in the United States illegally, Gaffney said, and all denied any knowledge of the 45.5 pounds of pot found in the SUV. The men were turned over to the U.S. Border Patrol.
Hernandez told deputies she lived in Phoenix and was headed to a casino when she spotted a man standing by the side of the road. He waved her down and when she stopped, the man and 10 others got into her SUV, Gaffney said.
Hernandez said she usually stops to help people who are stranded.
For her troubles, the 11 men gave her $300, Hernandez told deputies.
She claimed no knowledge of the $34,125 worth of marijuana in her SUV, Gaffney said.
The drugs, SUV and $759 in the woman’s purse was confiscated and Hernandez was booked into the Pinal County jail on suspicion of possession of marijuana, transportation of marijuana and possession of marijuana for sale.
A judge released her from custody on her own recognizance Oct. 21and she was turned over to U.S. Border Patrol, Gaffney said.