Accused human smuggling kingpin appears in court

Accused human smuggling kingpin appears in court

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Javier Rito-Martinez Javier Rito-Martinez
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PHOENIX -

The man arrested by Maricopa County Sheriff's deputies accused of being the kingpin of a massive human smuggling operation made his first court appearance.

35-year-old Javier Rito-Martinez went before a judge Thursday afternoon to hear the charges against him.

FOX 10's cameras were there as Rito-Martinez was arrested on Wednesday -- after a five month investigation.

He's accused of operating the smuggling operation out of his house in Laveen for several years.

The home was raided by MCSO deputies and people living in the area are relieved the operation has been taken down.

"To find out there is a scary cartel person in our neighborhood is absolutely terrifying. Because there is a daycare right there on the corner -- a high school a couple hundred yards over there," said area resident David Morris.

Rito-Martinez is facing eight felony charges for operating the smuggling ring.

MCSO officials say the cartel made millions of dollars over the past four years.

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