U.S. Border patrol agents working with ICE and Homeland Security capped a monthlong investigation by interdicting human trafficking activities around El Paso, Texas, and southern New Mexico.
According to an Immigrations and Customs Enforcement bulletin, special agents from the three different bureaus cooperated to arrest 18 people smuggling illegal aliens into the United States. These agents also arrested 117 illegal aliens.
Along with the arrests, the agencies also seized numerous vehicles, including three tractor-trailers, and more than half a ton of marijuana.
Precise details of the investigation and arrest operations were not revealed. All the involved agencies would say is that the arrests happened sometime in June, and targeted well-developed smuggling operations in the West Texas/Southern New Mexico area.
“This is a great example of the dedication and cooperation amongst area law enforcement agencies working towards the shared goals of securing our borders, protecting our local communities and our nation,” said Deputy Chief Patrol Agent Chris T. Clem, U.S. Border Patrol-El Paso Sector.
Two US Criminals Among Those Arrested
Two of the arrestees were U.S. citizens, both with extensive criminal records.
Elias Serrano, 42, had prior convictions for aggravated stalking, kidnapping, possessing a deadly weapon, and possessing marijuana with intent to distribute.
Jesus Briseno, 25, had prior convictions for escape from custody, possessing marijuana, assault/causing injury to family member, and driving while intoxicated.
Both face charges related to human trafficking, plus whatever else arises from the ongoing investigation of evidence gathered in the raids.
“We remain steadfast in our commitment to vigorously pursue members of transnational criminal networks that exploit and endanger people they smuggle into our country,” said Jack P. Staton, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) El Paso, in the ICE press release.
“These smugglers are driven by human greed and heartlessness. HSI will continue to work with our law enforcement partners, such as Border Patrol, to maintain the integrity of our border and nation’s immigration laws,” he said.
‘Safe Houses’ No Longer Safe
Agents located and raided three safe-houses where illegal aliens from different nations were staying.
Ninety-three of those arrested were from Mexico. Twelve were from Guatemala, six from Honduras, three from Brazil, two from El Salvador, and one person came from Peru.
Some of these people also had criminal records.
One of these was a 32-year-old Mexican with convictions for child endangerment and driving while intoxicated. He was arrested for illegally re-entering the United States after deportation.
A 34-year-old Guatemalan with an outstanding warrant out of Florida for driving under the influence, was also arrested and charged with illegally re-entering the United States after deportation.
One Mexican with known drug cartel ties was arrested for fraud and misuse of visas.
Along with the vehicles and drugs, agents also seized about $20,000 in American and Mexican currency.
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