A mother and daughter accused of illegally bringing a 2-year-old into the U.S. from Mexico and a Mexican wrestler who pleaded guilty to importing 50 kilograms of methamphetamine were among cases recently worked by Homeland Security Investigation San Antonio, a regional division of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s office.
The mother and daughter, American citizens living in Mexico and Eagle Pass, were indicted in Del Rio in October on charges of conspiracy, bringing an alien into the U.S. and making a false statement to a federal agent.
The wrestler pleaded guilty in October before a federal judge in Laredo to charges of conspiracy and importation of meth. The quantity of meth the wrestler had hidden in the vehicle he drove into the U.S. was enough to get the entire population of Kerr County high at once and was valued more than $300,000. He will be sentenced at a later date.
HSI San Antonio, which serves a region including Kerr County, made more than 3,300 criminal arrests in the fiscal year 2019, according to ICE’s office of public affairs.
“HSI San Antonio remains committed to detect and disrupt the flow of narcotics, illegal firearms and human smuggling cells into the southwest border in spite of the seemingly unending resources of the transnational criminal organizations that we encounter,” said Shane M. Folden, the special agent in charge of HSI San Antonio. “By working cooperatively with our law enforcement partners, we seized an unprecedented number of narcotics, illicit funds and illegal firearms that fuel cartel violence and negatively impact our local communities.”
According to the ICE office of public affairs, HSI San Antonio was among the top five HSI offices in the country for identity and benefit fraud — with 359 arrests — and was one of the first offices to uncover fake family units during the Southwest Border Crisis in April 2019.
In another recent San Antonio HSI case, a 49-year-old man from Maryland pleaded guilty in federal court in Laredo to smuggling dozens of foreigners into the U.S. for financial gain. The man, Ernest M. Carter, who is awaiting sentencing following his October guilty plea, was stopped at the Border Patrol checkpoint on Interstate 35 north of Laredo on June 3, 2019. He was driving a tractor-trailer. A K-9 alerted officers to the presence of narcotics or hidden persons inside the trailer and authorities discovered 36 foreigners — including two minors — in the trailer, more than $45,000 in cash and $4,000 in money orders.
Carter had purchased a vehicle for $10,000 in Laredo two days prior, although he was unemployed. He faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine as much as $250,000 under state law.
Other recent HSI San Antonio cases include:
• A Bangladeshi national, formerly of Monterrey, Mexico, pleaded guilty to conspiring to smuggle Bangladeshis into the country from Mexico for money.
• Another Bangladeshi national, formerly of Tapachula, Mexico, was indicted for an alleged role in smuggling Bangladeshis into the U.S. from Mexico.
• A Mexican man was charged with importing 22 kilograms of meth into the U.S. from Mexico.
• A handful of people pleaded guilty to committing H-2B visa fraud. One of the defendants is a Houston man sentenced in federal court in Brownsville to 38 months in prison followed by three years probation. He was ordered to forfeit $5 million. He and his co-conspirators had used legitimate and fictitious companies to petition for H-2B visas, then recruited and paid individuals to petition for visa workers they did not need and then used the foreign workers to fulfill labor contracts.
• 45 foreigners accused of being in the country illegally were arrested throughout South Texas during a five-day operation in September. More than 88 percent of those arrested had prior criminal histories that included convictions and/or pending charges such as assault, DWI, marijuana possession, failure to report a crash, alien smuggling, burglary, theft, probation violations, indecency with a child and more.