CORPUS CHRISTI–Federal authoritieres arrested four people, including a Portland firefighter, for immigrant smuggling and money laundering after they said the operation that had been going on for 17 years.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents raided a home in Corpus Christi and Portland last Tuesday, arresting the residents, seizing money and financial documents.
Peter Jones, 26, a Portland firefighter, Lorena Martinez, 36, Beatriz Rodriguez, 39, and Josesantos Zacarias, 42, were indicted for running an immigrant smuggling operation. Jones, Martinez and Rodriguez were also charged with failing to report income and try to hide it from the U.S. government.
“Human smuggling is a ruthless crime that undermines our borders reaching every state in the interior leaving a trail of exploited people perpetrated by those motivated by profit and greed,” said John Morton of ICE. “ICE is committed to using every available resource to identify, investigate and apprehend those involved in human smuggling.”
When agents raided the home of Jones and Martinez in Portland, they found $21,000 believed to be proceeds from the human smuggling operation. They also seized several financial documents that showed the history of the criminal operation. Authorities said this operation had been going on since 1993.
In the indictment, prosecutors filed paperwork to seize the properties raided at 4654 Dodd in Corpus Christi and 1101 Polaris in Portland because they believe the residents used the proceeds from this criminal operation to buy the homes.
Bond was set for Jones and Rodriguez at $30,000 at a hearing at the Corpus Christi Federal Courthouse, meanwhile Martinez, a legal permanent resident, was ordered to be held without bond due to her citizenship status. Zacarias, a Mexican national, will have a detention hearing, but he isn’t expected to be released because he isn’t a citizen or legal resident.
Each of the four counts of conspiracy to transport undocumented immigrants, two counts of money laundering and a count of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments carries a maximum punishment of 10 years in federal prison and a #250,000 fine.
–Manuel De La Rosa, South Texas Tribune, firstname.lastname@example.org