Del Rio Sector Border Patrol agents arrested a human smuggler and 13 migrants warehoused in a small motel room near Mexico.
Eagle Pass Border Patrol Station agents received a tip on February 5 about a possible human smuggling operation taking place in a motel. Agents staked out the area and observed suspicious behavior before approaching the room, according to Del Rio Sector officials.
The agents approached the motel and conducted immigration interviews with 13 people who were locked inside a room. All were illegally present in the U.S., officials reported.
The agents processed the 13 individuals and identified nine as Honduran nationals, including one juvenile. The remaining four came from Mexico. The migrants told Border Patrol agents they were being kept in the motel room while they waited to be smuggled further into the U.S.
“Unscrupulous human smugglers expose people to dangerous and inhumane conditions,” Del Rio Sector Chief Patrol Agent Raul L. Ortiz said in a written statement. “For them, it is all about monetary gain with no regard for the physical and mental well-being of the person being smuggled.”
The following day, agents arrested a 31-year-old woman, a U.S. citizen, after the smuggled migrants identified her as their “facilitator.” The agents turned the woman and the case over to ICE Homeland Security Investigations for prosecution.
If the woman is convicted of the felony human smuggling charge under 8 USC 1324, she could face up to 10 years in federal prison.
Officials report the migrants will be processed under U.S. Customs and Border Protection guidelines.