Federal authorities say that a man has pled guilty to charges related to a human smuggling scheme that took place at south Texas truck stops.
Forty-seven year old Mexican national Humberto Ramirez-Santos pled guilty to charges related to human smuggling on the first day of his trial, according to a July 8 news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Prosecutors say that Ramirez-Santos participated in a human smuggling scheme from October 2011 to July 2017 that involved illegal immigrants from China, Russia, India, Brazil, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Mexico.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, a major part of the smuggling scheme involved putting unsuspecting truck drivers at risk by hiding humans in their trucks without their knowledge:
“A particular tactic was to select a tractor trailer parked at a South Texas truck stop with a suitable temperature. They would then remove the seal and load the illegal aliens. Members of the organization would follow the vehicle to the next stop somewhere north of the checkpoint to later retrieve them. The drivers would be unaware of their human cargo and were potentially exposed to criminal liability. The aliens were then be transported in closed Penske trucks to Houston.”
Prosecutors also describe a scheme involving transporting illegal aliens to locations that were south of border checkpoints and then guiding them through south Texas ranches to help them avoid detection by law enforcement.
The smuggling attempts were reportedly made every week and the number of people who illegally entered the U.S. with help in part from Ramirez-Santos was described as “incalculable.”
Ramirez-Santos is scheduled for sentencing on October 1, 2019 and could face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.