Georgia man gets 18 months in North Dakota for smuggling people across Canada border

A Georgia man has been sentenced to 18 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to accusations that he conspired to smuggle people from Mexico across the U.S.-Canada border into and through North Dakota.

Rodolfo Arzola-Carrillo, 39, a Mexican national living in Georgia, pleaded guilty in federal court in Fargo, North Dakota, on Wednesday, the Bismarck Tribune reported.

In November, Arzola-Carrillo "partially carried out" the smuggling of seven people who did not have legal permission to cross the border from Canada into the U.S., according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in North Dakota. The group included children ages 4 and 9.

Georgia was the intended final destination, but the plan fell apart due to cold and snow, officials said. The group sought help from North Dakota’s Pembina County Sheriff’s Office, which supplied aid and then alerted U.S. Border Patrol.

Co-defendant Ernesto Falcon Jr., also from Georgia, is scheduled for a change-of-plea and sentence hearing in August.

"As this case and others have shown, attempting to smuggle human beings across the northern border is not just illegal and exploitative, it is also a threat to human life," Mac Schneider, U.S. attorney for North Dakota, said in a statement.

Last month, a Florida man pleaded not guilty to federal charges of human smuggling after four migrants were found dead in January 2022 after a freezing blizzard near the Canadian border. Surviving immigrants identified them as Indian nationals. Federal authorities have said that case may be linked to a larger smuggling operation along the Canadian border.