News: Five charged with smuggling immigrants: Raid in Valley caps two-year investigation

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Subject: News: Five charged with smuggling immigrants: Raid in Valley caps two-year investigation
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Tue Jan 12 1999 - 09:37:03 EST


Is this a case of smuggling or trafficking????

mel......

Five charged with smuggling immigrants: Raid in Valley caps two-year
investigation
January 9, 1999

RAYMONDVILLE, Texas (AP) -- Border Patrol agents found 63 undocumented
immigrants in a grocery store and a set of run-down apartments Friday,
capping an investigation that lasted more than two years.

Five people were arrested and charged with smuggling and harboring
undocumented immigrants. They were identified as Olga Contreras; her
husband, Abel Contreras; their daughter, Yolanda Hernandez; their son, Abel
Contreras Jr., 35; and their employee Daniel Munguia, 53.

Authorities described Mrs. Contreras as the mastermind of the smuggling
operation and said other arrests were possible.

They said the Contreras grocery and apartment houses served as a staging
area where immigrants were held for a time before continuing north.

Authorities said some of the immigrants had been in Raymondville for only a
day or two, while others had been there longer.

"We hope to send out a message that it's more difficult to get to the Lower
Rio Grande Valley, especially when you're trying to smuggle aliens out of
here," said McAllen Sector Chief Border Patrol Agent Joe Garza.

In January 1997, about 300 immigrants were found in the same apartments and
the surrounding area.

Fifty-three of those rounded up Friday morning are Mexicans. The
nationalities of the others were not known.

The immigrants paid between $300 and $700 each to be smuggled, said Border
Patrol spokeswoman Letty Garza.

The FBI, the IRS and the Immigration and Naturalization Service also took
part in the investigation.

As many as a dozen people lived in each unit of the small apartments. Dirty
mattresses lay on the floor. The apartments contained rusted and broken
stoves and dirty bathrooms.

Border Patrol investigator Rick Aguirre said the doors to some of the
apartments were locked and couldn't be unlocked from the inside.

None of the suspects said anything as they were taken into custody after
being questioned by the FBI. Mrs. Contreras smiled and waved at cameras.

Melanie Orhant

Co-Director
Human Trafficking Program
Global Survival Network

P.O. Box 73214
Washington, DC 20009
T: 387-0028
F: 387-2590
Email: morhant@igc.org
www.globalsurvival.net


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