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Traffic stop in Williamson Co. leads to human trafficking arrests

WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) - A traffic stop in Williamson County leads to a startling find in the back of an SUV that had deputies scratching their heads. 

It all happened this past Friday around 5:30 p.m. It started as a simple traffic stop on I-840 eastbound. 

Williamson County K9 officer Chuck Castleberry made the stop, pulling over a Hyundai Santa Fe that had crossed the center line several times.  

The officer approaches the passenger window. 60-year-old Mary Louis Perez initially told him they've driven 20 hours from Phoenix, but her story doesn't add up. 

You can hear the officer on dash cam say, "so are your nephew, he's my grandson". 

The K9 officer asks the driver, Ivan Santana Sanchez, to step out.  

The 24-year-old Phoenix man had a drug pipe in his possession.  

It's not long before the deputy noticed there are 11 people in this small SUV.  

"These nine illegals packed into this car like sardines," said the deputy.  

Two people were up front, five were in the back seat, and four more illegal aliens were laying on top of each other in the rear. 

"According to statements of the individuals, they were being smuggled from the Texas-Mexico area and being brought up to work up in Middle Tennessee and East Tennessee and done this on several occasions bringing the immigrants up here to work," said Sheriff Jeff Long.  

Investigators told News 2 both Sanchez and Perez admit they were paid to transport the nine people from Phoenix across the country. Their final destination was unclear.  

"It was human trafficking, the individuals involved said it was human trafficking they were taking them up to different work sites, and they did it for financial gains," Sheriff Long said.  

The driver and passenger are locked up at the Williamson County Jail and the other nine people were taken by IC.  Their status is unknown. 

Both suspects were charged with transport of illegal aliens. The driver was also charged with driving on a revoked and suspended license. They're due in court next Wednesday. 

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