MCALLEN, Texas – Federal authorities have seized a private airplane full of illegal immigrants. The aircraft was being used in an attempt to smuggle seven illegal immigrants from the Texas border into the interior U.S. to avoid immigration checkpoints.
The arrests of the seven illegal immigrants and seizure of the airplane took place on Sunday morning following a routine inspection at the McAllen Miller International airport, information released by the Air and Marine branch of U.S. Customs and Border Protection revealed.
It was during that inspection that authorities found the illegal immigrants hiding inside a Beech King Air E90 aircraft. The airplane’s pilot, a United States citizen, was released as the investigation continues.
Human smugglers using airplanes to fly illegal aliens out of border cities is not an uncommon practice. A similar situation took place in the border city of Harlingen last year, as Breitbart Texas previously reported.
In that situation, the pilot of a small Mexican airplane, an alleged accomplice, and four illegal immigrants prepared to fly out to San Marcos. That city is located north of the U.S. Border Patrol checkpoints along the main highways leaving the Rio Grande Valley.
Carolos Franco Montoya and Hever Marin Castillo both pleaded guilty in that case to the charge and have since been sentenced to prison. Montoya, the pilot, was sentenced to 18 months in prison. Marin, his accomplice, was sentenced to 13 months in prison. Both face deportation after completing their sentences.
The illegal immigrants in that case had each paid, or were to pay, $14,000 to go from Mexico to Houston.
In 2013, U.S. border patrol agents carried out a similar arrest at the McAllen airport. They arrested five illegal immigrants who were preparing to climb into a chartered plane to fly. The plan was to fly them from the Rio Grande Valley to San Antonio.