10 charged in U.S.Mex­ico hu­man smug­gling scheme

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - OBITUARIES - By Larry Neumeis­ter

A hu­man smug­gling ring that charged thou­sands of dol­lars to move peo­ple across the Mex­ico-U.S. bor­der and into New York City and other lo­ca­tions na­tion­wide was ex­posed, with charges against 10 de­fen­dants, au­thor­i­ties said Wed­nes­day.

Six de­fen­dants ar­rested in Texas and an­other ar­rested in Brook­lyn were held for ini­tial ap­pear­ances in fed­eral courts on charges they con­spired to ac­cept money to take peo­ple across the bor­der and re­lo­cate them in the United States. Three de­fen­dants re­mained fugi­tives.

Those ar­rested in Texas had res­i­dences in San An­to­nio, Laredo, McAllen and Round Rock. Ac­cord­ing to pa­pers filed in Man­hat­tan fed­eral court, the de­fen­dants car­ried out var­i­ous roles in the con­spir­acy, in­clud­ing find­ing places to stay for peo­ple be­ing smug­gled into the coun­try and trans­port­ing them across the bor­der. One de­fen­dant rented ve­hi­cles to move the peo­ple around the United States, an in­dict­ment nam­ing eight de­fen­dants said.

Two de­fen­dants were iden­ti­fied in a crim­i­nal com­plaint signed by a Depart­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity agent.

The agent, Luis San­tana, wrote in the court pa­pers that the ar­rests stemmed from a broader in­ves­ti­ga­tion that be­gan in June 2014 into an in­ter­na­tional crim­i­nal or­ga­ni­za­tion sus­pected of smug­gling pre­vi­ously de­ported peo­ple back into the United States from the Caribbean and Cen­tral and South Amer­ica.

He said the smug­gling or­ga­ni­za­tion is be­lieved to have smug­gled peo­ple from the Do­mini­can Repub­lic and other coun­tries through Gu­atemala and Mex­ico, among other places, and across the Texas bor­der be­fore they were moved to New York and other U.S. des­ti­na­tions.

San­tana said the smug­gled peo­ple are fre­quently re­quired to make sep­a­rate pay­ments to smug­glers to progress to fur­ther des­ti­na­tions.

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