High school senior charged with recruiting students to smuggle drugs

Castle Park High School

SAN DIEGO — A Castle Park High School senior was charged Monday with human smuggling and conspiracy to distribute illicit narcotics.

Phillip Junior Webb, who was arraigned Monday afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Bernard Skomal in San Diego, faces 13 years to life in prison if convicted of the two charges facing him, according to federal prosecutors.

The 18-year-old Tijuana resident allegedly recruited other high school students to smuggle fentanyl and methamphetamine into the United States on four occasions last summer and fall. In each case, the young couriers had drugs strapped to their bodies as they tried to cross the border through the Otay Mesa and San Ysidro ports of entry, court documents state.

Webb was arrested Friday while allegedly attempting to smuggle two foreigners — a Chinese citizen and a Mexican national — into the United States in the trunk of his car.

The case exemplifies “a very troubling trend,” according to San Diego-area U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman.

“Our youth are being recruited by drug cartels to smuggle dangerous drugs across the border,” he said. “We are going after the recruiters who exploit these kids, but the kids also need to know that they are gambling with their lives when they do this.”

Webb’s next court appearance in the case is scheduled for Thursday.