Truckers Used As Pawns In Truck Stop Trafficking Scheme Says Human Smuggler
Victoria, Texas – A Mexican national facing human smuggling charges admitted to U.S. officials he frequently used truckers as pawns to transport people in big rigs without their knowledge.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on Monday that 47-year-old Mexican national Humberto Ramirez-Santos recently pleaded guilty for his involvement in a conspiracy to transport illegal aliens between October 2011 to July 2017.
In a release on Monday DOJ officials outlined the elaborate lengths Ramirez-Santos and the alien smuggling organization, of which he was a part, engaged in.
Ramirez-Santos and co-conspirators drove cars and trucks to locations south of Border Patrol checkpoints.
There, they were guided through South Texas ranches to avoid detection.
They frequently used Penske trucks and tractor-trailers to smuggle illegal aliens through various checkpoints, U.S. prosecutors said.
According to DOJ officials, Ramirez-Santos revealed a preferred tactic was to select a tractor-trailer parked at a South Texas truck stop with a suitable temperature.
They would then remove the seal and load the illegal aliens.
Members of the organization would follow the vehicle to the next stop somewhere north of the checkpoint to later retrieve them.
Ramirez-Santos told U.S. prosecutors the truck drivers would essentially be used as pawns and were unaware of their human cargo.
DOJ officials said this potentially exposed the truckers to criminal liability.
The aliens were then transported in closed Penske trucks to Houston.
Ramirez-Santos admitted he provided aliens to be smuggled through his contacts in Mexico.
He also trained the young members of the organization in how to do counter-surveillance and instructed younger family members in how to move aliens.
U.S. prosecutors said Ramirez-Santos and his co-conspirators facilitated the smuggling of an “incalculable” number illegal aliens from multiple countries including individuals from China, Russia, India, Brazil, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico.
Ages of those smuggled into the country ranged from toddlers to the elderly but were mostly comprised of young adults.
Senior U.S. District Judge John Rainey accepted the plea and has set sentencing for Oct. 1, 2019.
At that time, Ramirez-Santos faces up to 10 years in prison and a possible $250,000 fine.
TNN will continue to monitor ongoing developments.
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