Special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and agents with U.S. Border Patrol arrested 18 human smugglers and seized cash, vehicles and more than 1,000 lbs. of marijuana last month in a joint effort, the agency announced in a press release.
Special agents assigned to HSI El Paso’s human smuggling group and Border Patrol agents, who are part of HSI’s Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST), worked together to identify, locate and arrest alleged smugglers operating smuggling organizations in southern New Mexico and the El Paso area.
Two U.S. citizens are among the alien smugglers arrested and charged with human smuggling. Elias Serrano, 42, who has prior convictions for aggravated stalking, kidnapping, possessing a deadly weapon and possessing marijuana with intent to distribute was arrested. Jesus Briseno, 25, has prior convictions for escape from custody, possessing marijuana, assault/causing injury to family member, and driving while intoxicated.
Among the 117 undocumented people arrested, several had criminal histories. Among them, a 30-year-old Mexican with ties to a Mexican drug cartel was arrested for fraud and misuse of visas and, a 32-year-old Mexican with convictions for child endangerment and driving while intoxicated, was arrested for illegally re-entering the U.S. after deportation.
The month-long enforcement action resulted in the arrest of people at three area stash houses from the following countries: Mexico (93), Guatemala (12), Honduras (6), Brazil (3), El Salvador (2) and Peru (1).
The seizures included nine vehicles, three tractor-trailers and $20,000 in U.S and Mexican currency.
“We remain steadfast in our commitment to vigorously pursue members of transnational criminal networks that exploit and endanger people they smuggle into our country,” said Jack P. Staton, special agent in charge of HSI El Paso. “These smugglers are driven by human greed and heartlessness. HSI will continue to work with our law enforcement partners, such as Border Patrol, to maintain the integrity of our border and nation’s immigration laws.”
“This is a great example of the dedication and cooperation amongst area law enforcement agencies working towards the shared goals of securing our borders, protecting our local communities and our nation,” said Deputy Chief Patrol Agent Chris T. Clem, U.S. Border Patrol-El Paso Sector.