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He was recruited thru Snapchat to smuggle migrants. Now a Tempe man could be going to prison

Prosecutors say Matthew Ramirez, 20, of Tempe could be sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty to crimes involving the death of a 36-year-old woman.

TEMPE, Ariz. — A Valley man has pleaded guilty in court to partaking in a human smuggling operation that ended in the death of a 36-year-old woman from Mexico.

Matthew Dylan Ramirez, 20, of Tempe has pleaded guilty to crimes committed last May in Arizona and could be sentenced to life in prison, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office of Arizona.

Ramirez told investigators he had been recruited by a smuggling organization through Snapchat to transport a group of undocumented migrants to Phoenix for $1,000.

On May 22, 2021, Ramirez picked up four people who had been walking through the Arizona desert and proceeded to drive north. 

A police officer with the Tohono O'odham Nation attempted to stop Ramirez and the defendant continued driving at speeds exceeding 100 mph, prosecutors say. 

Ramirez eventually lost control of his vehicle, causing it to roll several times and ejecting its passengers. One of the individuals, a 36-year-old woman from Mexico, died at the scene.  

Jesus Madrid-Varela, 19, of Mexico has also pleaded guilty for his involvement in the smuggling incident and faces nearly five years in prison. Both defendants will be sentenced on Nov. 1.

RELATED: Glendale man found with 13 undocumented migrants in back of his U-Haul

RELATED: Ducey calling on social media firms to better police platforms to fight human smuggling

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Silent Witness: 

Arizona's Silent Witness program allows people to send in tips and share information about crimes happening within their local communities. 

The program shares unsolved felony case information in multiple ways, including TV, radio and social media. 

Anyone who has information on a crime or recognizes a suspect described by the program is asked to call 480-948-6377, go to the program's website online or download the Silent Witness app to provide a tip. The identity of anyone who submits a tip is kept anonymous. 

Calls to Silent Witness are answered 24/7 by a live person and submitted tips are accepted at all times. Submitted tips are then sent to the detective(s) in charge of the specific case. 

Individuals who submit tips that lead to an arrest or indictment in the case can get a reward of up to $1,000. 

Have a tip? Submit it on the Silent Witness tip form here. 

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