Human Smuggling in Colorado
CRS 18-13-128

In Colorado, human smuggling involves providing transportation to a person for the purpose of entering or remaining in the country in violation of immigration laws. Smuggling of humans is a class 3 felony, with penalties including 4 to 16 years in prison and a fine of up to $750,000. In this article, our Colorado criminal defense lawyers will address:

A person commits smuggling of humans if they agree to provide transportation in exchange for money, to assist another person to enter or travel in the United States or Colorado in violation of immigration laws.

1. What is human smuggling in Colorado?

A person commits smuggling of humans if they agree to provide transportation in exchange for money, to assist another person to enter or travel in the United States or Colorado in violation of immigration laws. This includes providing transportation or agreeing to provide transportation that enables another person to enter the U.S., pass through Colorado, or remain in the country in violation of immigration laws.1

Smuggling can be done for money or “any other thing of value.” This can include promises to work off any debt through labor or sexual services. Smuggling involving coercion may also result in human trafficking charges.

Each person who is transported or offered transportation may result in a separate offense. If a person offers to help transport a family of four individuals in violation of immigration laws, they may end up facing four separate offenses of human smuggling.2

2. What are examples of human smuggling?

Individuals may be smuggled into the United States in search of work opportunities. This may be facilitated by friends or family who offer assistance or provide money to bring them into the U.S. This includes bringing family members to the U.S. to join individuals who are already in Colorado legally.

Others are brought under false pretenses to work for criminal organizations, also known as human trafficking. What sometimes starts out as apparent human smuggling can turn into human trafficking. Some individuals who are smuggled into the United States or Colorado are told that they will have to work off their debt to the smugglers who brought them to the U.S.

Human trafficking may involve being physically restrained or threatened with injury or death to family members if they escape. They may be forced to provide sexual services in exchange for money and regularly transported across the country.

The Colorado State Patrol's Smuggling and Traffic Interdiction Unit focus' on criminal human smuggling across the state of Colorado. They often work together with federal immigration officers and the FBI to investigate criminal organizations smuggling people across the Colorado-state and U.S.-international borders.

3. What are the penalties for smuggling of humans?

Smuggling of humans in Colorado is a class 3 felony.3 The penalties for a conviction for a single incident of a human smuggling include 4 to 12 years in prison and a fine of up to $750,000. There is also a mandatory parole period of 5 years for a human smuggling conviction.

Human trafficking is also a federal offense. Federal law makes it a crime to provide the following assistance to an individual in violation of immigration law:

  • Transport an individual across the border;
  • Transport an individual within the United States;
  • Conceal, harbor, or shield an individual from detection; or
  • Encourage an individual to come to or reside in the United States.4

4. Related Offenses

4.1. Human Trafficking for Sexual Servitude C.R.S. 18-3-504

Human trafficking for sexual servitude includes transporting people for the purpose of coercing them to engage in a commercial sexual activity. Human sex trafficking is a class 3 felony; however, it can be a class 2 felony if it involves victims under the age of 18. Penalties include up to 16 or more years in prison and fines. A conviction all requires mandatory registration as a sex offender.

4.2. Kidnapping C.R.S. 18-3-301

Imprisoning another person or moving them from one place to another by force or unlawful persuasion is kidnapping. The penalties for kidnapping depend on whether the kidnapper held the victim for ransom. In some cases, first-degree kidnapping can result in prison for up to 48 years if a deadly weapon was involved.

4.3. Sexual Assault C.R.S. 18-3-402

Sexual assault or rape involves the unwanted sexual penetration on another person. The penalties for sexual assault may depend on whether force was used, or the victim was drugged. It also depends on the ages of the victim and the perpetrator. Sexual assault may require registration as a sex offender.

4.4. Racketeering C.R.S. 18-17-104

Racketeering activity includes a pattern of criminal activity which often involve gangs or organized crime. This can include illegal gambling, prostitution, and human trafficking. Racketeering in Colorado is a class 2 felony, with penalties including up to 24 years in prison and up to $1 million in fines.

Call us for help...

If you have been accused of human smuggling or human trafficking, please contact us at Colorado Legal Defense Group. 

Legal References

  1. C.R.S. 18-13-128(1)
  2. C.R.S. 18-13-128(3)
  3. C.R.S. 18-13-128(2)
  4. 8 U.S.C. 1324

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