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Federal investigators break up human smuggling operation based in El Paso

ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico (KVIA) -- Homeland Security Investigations agents in El Paso say nine accused human smugglers were indicted May 18.

Jose Luis Avalos, aka "El Gordo" is the accused leader of the smuggling operation, according to officials. Avalos, as well as his wife, Kristina Hardin, are from El Paso and were arrested in the Sun City June 1. Officials say Avalos and Hardin could each face 20 years in prison if convicted.

Also allegedly involved, Avalos's brother, David Avalos-Solis. He is from Chaparral and was arrested May 24.

Agents also arrested Nancy Orellana-Recinos, a Guatemalan national, in Rio Rancho, New Mexico June 1. Brothers Dario Rey and Diego Rean "Sunny" Gamboa, both from Las Cruces, were arrested May 23 and June 1 respectively. Dario has already been released.

Officials arrested Cindy Marie Escobar, a resident of Lordsburg, on May 23. Las Cruces resident Justin Walker was arrested May 27. Officials are also looking for Las Cruces resident Adam Guerrero. They have issued a warrant for his arrest.

This is a developing story. ABC-7 is asking officials for more details about the alleged human smuggling operation. Check back for updates.

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