Young man who recruited students as drug mules sentenced

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SAN DIEGO — A young man who recruited fellow high school students to smuggle drugs into the United States and also attempted to smuggle two people across the border was sentenced Monday to nearly four years in federal prison.

Tijuana resident Phillip Junior Webb, now 20, pleaded guilty last year to his role in having juveniles smuggle methamphetamine and fentanyl into the country on multiple occasions, as well as personally smuggling people into the United States inside his car.

A San Diego federal judge sentenced Webb, who pleaded guilty last July, to 46 months in custody.

Prosecutors said that as an 18-year-old high school senior, Webb recruited fellow students from his school to strap drugs onto their bodies, then cross the border into the U.S. at either the San Ysidro or Otay Mesa Ports of Entry. He was arrested last May while trying to bring a Chinese national and a Mexican national into the country inside the trunk of his vehicle.

“Violent Mexican cartels are making money by exploiting children in the United States and Mexico,” said Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Karen Flowers. “Our children, naive to the dangers, are promised money in exchange for allowing cartel members to strap drugs on their bodies in the back alleys of Tijuana, often surrounded by gun-bearing cartel members, and smuggle the drugs to the U.S.

“What these children aren’t told is that these drugs are deadly and they are putting themselves at risk to be physically exploited or even killed,” Flowers said. “Phillip Webb coerced children with the lure of easy money and the Hollywood notion of a glamorized life of crime. His sentencing makes it clear that we will not stand by and let profiteers damage our children.”

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