Contributed Photo/Courtesy GCSO: From left, David Mayles, 19, and Devin Richardson, 18, were arrested and booked into the Graham County Adult Detention Facility on charges of human smuggling.
By Jon Johnson
PIMA – “The Old West Highway” is made up of U.S. Highway 70 and U.S. Highway 60 from Apache Junction to Lordsburg, New Mexico. Over the years, a number of characters, including Billy the Kid and Geronimo, have traveled through the historic route.
While most of the highway is either 55 or 65 mph, the speed dips when it comes to a municipality, such as it does when one travels through Pima. Traveling eastbound, the speed limit drops from 65 to 45 and then, after the Cottonwood Wash Bridge, down to 35 through town. Heading the opposite way, the speed limit drops from 55 to 45 and then 35 as one passes the lone gas station in town.
With its rural setting and how it connects to Interstate 10 heading eastbound (either in Lordsburg or by taking the turn at Safford onto U.S. Highway 191 for the 33-mile jaunt to the freeway) and turns into its own freeway at Apache Junction and connects to the greater Phoenix-area, the route has been used by those looking to avoid law enforcement as they transport illicit substances and, in this case, smuggle humans from the border of Mexico to the Phoenix area.
On Sunday, Aug. 9, just before 2 p.m., an Arizona Department of Public Safety trooper was on patrol in the area of Main Street in Pima when he noticed a westbound black sedan that failed to respond to the speed change and was caught on radar going 51 mph in a 35-mph-zone. What could have been a simple speeding warning on any other day turned out to be something a bit more substantial.
When the trooper initiated the traffic stop, he located two young men in the front, driver Devin Richardson, 18, and front-seat passenger David Myles, 19. The trooper also noticed four male individuals lying down in the back seat area with two subjects with their backs behind the front seats and their heads on the rear seat cushion and two others in between with their heads and shoulders in the trunk area. The four subjects in the rear included one 16-year-old juvenile and were found to have entered the county illegally from Mexico into Naco, Arizona.
The Undocumented Aliens advised that they had paid $1,000 each to be taken to Phoenix and that Richardson and Mayles had picked them up somewhere north of the U.S./Mexico border near Naco.
Richardson allegedly advised that he picked the group up at a gas station because their vehicle had broken down and he was just giving them a ride to Phoenix. When asked what gas station, Richardson couldn’t pinpoint it but said it could have been in Safford. The trooper asked again which gas station because he could then authenticated Richardson’s version of events with surveillance footage, but the suspect could not say which one it was. For his part, Mayles allegedly claimed he had been asleep the entire time and didn’t have any knowledge about any of the passengers.
The four UDAs were transported to the Pima Police Department, where they were later taken into custody by the Border Patrol.
Richardson and Mayles were arrested and booked into the Graham County Adult Detention Facility on charges of human smuggling. Their vehicle was towed from the scene and placed into a tow yard.