News/US: INS investigating smuggling of illegal immigrants

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Subject: News/US: INS investigating smuggling of illegal immigrants
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Tue Dec 07 1999 - 18:50:19 EST


INS investigating smuggling of illegal immigrants
By Catherine Tsai
December 6, 1999

DENVER (AP) -- A report of a missing boy over the weekend has sparked an
investigation into the smuggling of humans from Mexico to Colorado and beyond.

Guillermo Sanchez-Lucatero, 34, was arrested Sunday on a charge of
second-degree kidnapping after he told an Adams County sheriff's deputy
where to find the boy. Authorities alleged the 13-year-old was used as
collateral while his stepfather tried to raise the money to pay for their
illegal trip into the United States.

The plot unraveled after Mexican citizen Gersson Gonzales, 28, asked Eagle
County sheriff's deputies Saturday for help getting his 13-year-old stepson
back.

Deputies learned that Gonzales and his stepson had paid to enter the United
States illegally and ride in a van from Phoenix to the El Jebel area of
southwestern Eagle County.

But when the two passengers arrived, Gonzales could not pay the $400 that
he and his stepson each owed for the trip, the Eagle County Sheriff's
Office said.

The van driver, whom deputies have identified as Sanchez, is accused of
holding the stepson until Gonzales could find the money. The van then left
for the Denver area with plans to continue to Kansas with other illegal
immigrants inside, officials said.

An Adams County sheriff's deputy spotted the van Sunday after the driver
told Gonzales he could swap the boy for money at a hotel in northwestern
Denver.

The deputy talked to Sanchez, who said the boy could be found at another
motel, officials said. Three more juveniles and an adult also were found
there unharmed.

Details of the passengers' status in the United States was unknown, but the
juveniles were in the custody of Adams County Youth Services, said Eagle
County Detective Sgt. Mike McWilliam.

Sanchez is a Mexican citizen staying in the United States as a temporary
resident alien.

Gonzales, who was reunited with his stepson, has signed a form with the
Immigration and Naturalization Service agreeing to return to Mexico
voluntarily, officials said. But McWilliam said the man's stay could be
extended if he is needed as a witness, should Sanchez go to trial.

The INS is investigating whether Sanchez can stay in the United States
after criminal proceedings.

Denver police and the FBI assisted in the search for the missing boy.

Melanie Orhant

morhant@igc.org
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