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Sheriff’s Deputy Sentenced for Alien Smuggling

SAN DIEGO - A sheriff's deputy will serve 2 ½ years in federal prison for smuggling immigrants, including a minor, in the trunk of her car while wearing her uniform and department-issued firearm.

Law enforcement arrested Imperial County reserve deputy sheriff Elizabeth Hernandez and another woman on April 17, 2013, for transporting illegal aliens. The 23-year-old hid the immigrants while passing through the Highway 86 checkpoint operated by Border Patrol.

Hernandez and her co-defendant, Edna Yanie Calderon, pleaded guilty in June and consented to the forfeiture of proceeds and assets associated with their crimes.

Hernandez's plea acknowledges that she abused her position of public trust by using her uniform and loaded firearm to facilitate the crime.

Prosecutors said Hernandez made such trips from at least October 2012, earning at least $90,000 from.

Her earnings enabled her to buy a 2013 Dodge Charger, a 2012 Polaris off-road recreational vehicle and a 2008 GMC Sierra pickup truck, according to the plea.

Hernandez also consented to the forfeiture of approximately $20,000 in cash that officers found on her at the time of the arrest and at her residence, proceeds from her crimes.

U.S. District Judge Janis Sammartino handed down the sentence Friday.

Calderon, 22, will likely face less time at her sentencing before Sammartino on Oct. 4, since the judge highlighted the severity of Hernandez's use of her uniform and firearm.

Hernandez also faces three years of supervised release after her sentence. She must surrender herself to the designated prison facility by no later than Nov. 5 at noon. Judge Sammartino will hold a status hearing on Hernandez's self-surrender Nov. 8 at 9 a.m.

Both Hernandez and Calderon are from El Centro, Calif.

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