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Texas BP Agent Charged w Human Trafficking: 180 Migrants Found in Stash Houses

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 Yaqui for Borderland Beat

A Texas Border Patrol agent has been charged with human trafficking after more than 180 migrants were found in three stash houses earlier this month.

The unnamed Laredo Sector Border Patrol agent was arrested on May 21. The arrest occurred after a grand jury indicted them for felony offenses “related to transporting undocumented individuals for private gain,” a statement from US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) said.

The agent, who joined the Border Patrol in 2008, has been placed on “indefinite suspension” as the US Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of Texas investigates.

The suspect’s arrest comes nearly a month after US legal authorities discovered over 180 Central American immigrants living in “stash houses” in Laredo. Laredo is a Texas city on the US southern border.

On May 4, legal authorities discovered 68 undocumented immigrants living in one house. On that same day, authorities located a second house containing 50 undocumented individuals. Later that same evening, authorities then found a third house with 65 undocumented people.

“Stash houses continue to be a threat to national security and to the citizens of our nation, not only because of their use by criminal organizations but they are also a danger to the people they exploit by concealing them in dilapidated close quarters such as these, “the CBP said in a statement.

None of the individuals at the houses had been wearing personal protective equipment to prevent them from acquiring COVID-19. The individuals were identified as nationals of El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico, according to the CBP. 

McAllen, Texas:  A veteran US Border Patrol agent from the Laredo Sector has now been indicted on charges of human trafficking of undocumented migrants, according to US Customs and Border Protection:

The unnamed Border Patrol agent stationed in South Texas “is currently on indefinite suspension,” according to a statement issued by CBP.

A grand jury on May 21 indicted the agent on felony charges “related to transporting undocumented individuals for private gain,” the statement said.

A US Border Patrol (USBP) agent in Southern Texas was charged for informing and coordinating with smugglers as part of a conspiracy to unlawfully transport migrants and contraband across the US-Mexico border, federal prosecutors said.

Rodney Tolson, Jr., an agent in the Border Patrol’s Laredo Division regularly assigned to Interstate Highway 35, was indicted by a federal grand jury and charged with felonies for his alleged role in the scheme to unlawfully move migrants across the border for money.

According to the indictment unsealed Friday, Tolson would “coordinate lane assignments” and intentionally “fail to inspect and fail to declare the nationality and status of [migrants] transported and moved through the Interstate Highway 35 checkpoint” to ensure those crossing the border unlawfully would not be detected.

In fact, the US Indictment claims the US Border Patrol agent was paid to allow migrants to pass through Interstate 35 checkpoint.

A US Border Patrol agent reported his lane assignment to smugglers and allowed migrants to go through the Interstate 35 checkpoint without inspection several times, according to court documents.

Rodney Tolson Jr. would receive payment for taking part in the smuggling conspiracy, authorities said.

An indictment filed May 18, 2021 charged Tolson with one count of conspiracy to transport an undocumented migrant within the United States and two counts of transport and attempt to transport an undocumented migrant within the United States for financial gain.

Each count carries a punishment of up to 10 years behind bars and / or a $ 250,000 fine.

On Monday, Tolson made initial appearance via Zoom before US Magistrate Judge Diana Song Quiroga. Tolson’s bond was set at $ 75,000. He then waived the formal reading of the indictment, pleaded not guilty and requested jury trial. His arraignment is set for May 27.

As per the indictment, Tolson would coordinate the unlawful transportation of migrants.

“It was part of the conspiracy that (Tolson), and others known and unknown, would coordinate lane assignments in order to facilitate and further the transportation and movement of (migrants) through the I-35 checkpoint,” states the indictment.

Tolson, and others known and unknown, would fail to inspect and fail to declare the nationality and status of migrants transported and moved through the checkpoint. Tolson would receive monetary compensation and payment for the smuggling activities, according to court documents.

The case unfolded on Feb. 9, 2019, when Tolson used a cellphone to inform others of his inspection lane assignment. Tolson corruptly allowed others known and unknown to move or transport migrants through the checkpoint. Tolson along with others known and unknown received monetary compensation and payment for their smuggling activities, according to court documents.

Tolson did the same act on Feb. 16, 2019; March 2, 2019; March 10, 2019; March 23, 2019; and March 26, 2019; states the indictment. SEE Bottom of Post for entire indictment link.

The indictment specified six dates between February and March of 2019 when Tolson allegedly used his cell phone to inform smugglers of his inspection lane assignment, allowed them to illegally transport migrants through that lane, and then “received monetary compensation and payment” for the “smuggling activities.

On the final date detailed in the indictment, March 26, 2019, prosecutors alleged that Tolson “did transport and move and attempt to transport and move” two migrants – Florentino Antonio-Apolonio and Silvino Venancio-Vicente – who were in the country illegally, for his own financial gain.

“It was part of the conspiracy that [Tolson] would by disloyal, dishonest, corrupt, unlawful, and improper actions and omissions, defraud the United States by interfering and obstructing the lawful governmental functions of the USBP, in that [Tolson], and others known and unknown, would coordinate the unlawful movement and transportation of [migrants] who had come to, entered, and remained in the United States in violation of law, and in furtherance of such violation, ”federal prosecutors in the Southern District of Texas wrote.

Tolson was charged with one count of conspiracy to transport and move a migrant who was in the US illegally and two counts of transporting a migrant for monetary gain “knowing and in reckless disregard of the fact” that they were in the country illegally. All three charges carry a maximum sentence of up to ten years in federal prison and a fine of up to $ 250,000.

US Customs and Border Patrol on Tuesday issued a press release confirming that one of their agents had been arrested, though Tolson was not mentioned by name.

“A Laredo Sector Border Patrol Agent was arrested in Laredo, Texas, on May 21, after being indicted by a grand jury,” the agency stated. “He has been charged with felony offenses related to transporting undocumented individuals for private gain. The agent who was arrested entered on duty in 2008 and is currently on indefinite suspension. This investigation is being conducted by the DHS Office of Inspector General and CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility with the full support of the Border Patrol Laredo Sector leadership.

CBP also emphasized that it “stresses honor and integrity in every aspect of our mission and expects officers and agents to adhere to the oath they take to uphold and enforce the laws of this country,” and said the agency “will continue to support the criminal. or administrative investigation of alleged misconduct by any of our personnel, on or off duty. “

Tolson’s attorney, Octavio Salinas II, did not immediately respond to an email from Law & Crime regarding the charges against his client.

Read the indictment below at bottom of Post.

“US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) stresses honor and integrity in every aspect of our mission and expects officers and agents to adhere to the oath they take to uphold and enforce the laws of this country. CBP will continue to support the criminal or administrative investigation of alleged misconduct by any of our personnel, on or off duty, ”CBP said.

The agent has been with Border Patrol since 2008 and the case has been turned over to the US Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of Texas.

Sixty-five undocumented migrants were found in one stash house in Laredo, Texas, on May 4, 2021. Dozens others were found in nearby buildings, CBP officials said. (Courtesy Photo)

Laredo, Texas, across from the northern Mexican city of Nuevo Laredo, is the site of many stash houses. Border Patrol agents almost daily report shutting down these operations where undocumented migrants are held as they are transported illegally into the United States. This includes 180 migrants found in three stash houses just a few hours apart on May 4, including 65 found in one location with no personal protective equipment despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, CBP reported.

“All of the people rescued from these stash houses were being held against their will. Human smuggling / trafficking are dangerous situations. Please help others by reporting suspicious situations you see; you just might save a life, ” Deputy Chief Patrol Agent Carl Landrum said.

The CBP also said that the people had all been held against their will.

RGV Agents Disrupt Three Human Smuggling Stash Houses:

Release Date: May 26, 2021

Edinburg, Texas: Rio Grande Valley Sector (RGV) Border Patrol agents apprehended 22 subjects in three separate human smuggling stash houses in Edinburg, Texas.

Yesterday morning, RGV agents responded to a call for assistance from the Starr County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO). SCSO received a report of a suspected human smuggling stash house in Roma, Texas. Agents and officers arrived on scene and discovered six adult migrants and one unaccompanied child being harbored in the home. The subjects were identified as nationals of Mexico and El Salvador. Border Patrol took custody of all subjects and processed them accordingly.

Hours later, RGV Border Patrol agents, with assistance from the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO), apprehended nine subjects in a human smuggling stash house located in north Edinburg, Texas. Agents identified all subjects to be illegally present in the United States. The subjects were citizens of Mexico, Honduras, and Ecuador. All subjects were taken into Border Patrol custody and processed accordingly.

Yesterday afternoon, RGV agents, with assistance of troopers from the Texas Department of Public Safety encountered a similar situation. Authorities apprehended six subjects at a residence being utilized as a human smuggling stash house located in north Rio Grande City, Texas. Agents identified the subjects from various Central American countries, all determined to be illegally present in the United States. All subjects were transported to a Border Patrol facility and processed accordingly.

RGV Sector Border Patrol Agents, Local Enforcement Partners Discover 82 Migrants in One Stash House:

Release Date: May 25, 2021

Edinburg, Texas: Rio Grande Valley Sector Border Patrol (RGV) agents discover 98 migrants in two stash houses, one containing 82 subjects.

Yesterday morning, a residence suspected of harboring migrants was shut down by the combined efforts of RGV agents, Texas Department of Public Safety, Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office, and the Edinburg Police Department. When authorities arrived at the residence located in Edinburg, Texas, a male subject, along with 20 other subjects exited the front door. A total of 82 individuals, to include three unaccompanied children, were discovered in the home. The 82 subjects were determined to be migrants illegally present in the United States. The subjects are citizens of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. No caretaker was identified.

Items are strewn about within a stash house in which 82 migrants were discovered and  the McAllen Police Department responded to a call at a McAllen residence. When officers arrived, they discovered the residence was being used to harbor migrants. Officers requested assistance from the McAllen Border Patrol Station agents. Agents discovered 16 migrants, including one unaccompanied child, illegally present in the United States. Questioning of the individuals identified the subjects to be citizens of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. No caretaker was present.

Border Patrol processed all subjects accordingly.

Even with the spread of the COVID-19 virus, human smugglers continue to try these brazen attempts with zero regard for the lives they endanger nor to the health of the citizens of our great nation. The US Border Patrol agents of the Rio Grande Valley Sector will continue to safeguard the nation and community against these criminal elements.

Apartment Complex in Mission, Texas, Used for Human Smuggling:

Release Date: May 27, 2021

EDINBURG, Texas– Rio Grande Valley Sector (RGV) Border Patrol agents apprehended 27 migrants at two locations being used for human smuggling.

Yesterday morning, RGV agents received information regarding an apartment complex in Mission, Texas, being used for human smuggling. Agents requested the assistance of the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office with the investigation. A thorough search of the property led to the apprehension of 22 migrants, to include three unaccompanied children, being harbored in various apartment units within the complex. The migrants were determined to be Mexican nationals illegally present in the United States.

Later, RGV agents along with troopers from the Texas Department of Public Safety received information of a possible human smuggling stash house operating in Roma, Texas. When agents and troopers arrived on scene, they discovered five migrants inside the home. Agents determined the subjects were from the countries of Guatemala and Honduras. 

Border Patrol Agents Arrest a Gang Member and Two Child Sexual Predators:

Release Date: May 27, 2021

Edinburg, Texas – Rio Grande Valley Sector Border Patrol agents arrested a female 18th Street gang member, and two migrants previously convicted of sexual crimes involving children.

Yesterday morning, McAllen Border Patrol Station (MCS) agents working near Hidalgo, Texas arrested several subjects to include a Salvadoran adult female shortly after illegally entering the United States. During processing, the female admitted to being a member of the 18th Street Gang. 

-18th Street, also known as Calle 18, Barrio 18, Mara 18, or simply La 18 in Central America, [1] [12] [13] [14] is a multi-ethnic (largely Central American and Mexican) transnational criminal organization that started as a street gang in Los Angeles. It is one of the largest transnational criminal gangs in Los Angeles, with 30,000 to 50,000 members between the United States, Mexico, and Central America and is also allied with the Mexican Mafia. [Citation needed] A United States Department of Justice report featured the following statement regarding 18th Street and rival gang MS-13, “These two gangs have turned the Central American northern triangle into the area with the highest homicide rate in the world.” -

Yesterday, Rio Grande City Border Patrol Station agents apprehended a group of 10 migrants in Roma, Texas. During processing, agents discovered one noncitizen, identified as Edwin Francisco Mejia-Iglesias, a national of El Salvador, had been previously arrested by the Tomball, Texas, Police Department in 2018, for online solicitation of a minor sexual conduct. He was convicted and sentenced to six years probation.

Yesterday afternoon, MCS agents apprehended a group of 10 migrants near Havana, Texas. The subjects were taken into custody and transported to the station. At the station, agents discovered one of the subjects, a Mexican national, had been previously arrested by the Phoenix, Arizona, Police Department in 2016, for sexual conduct with a minor. He was convicted and sentenced to five years incarceration.

Border Patrol processed the subjects accordingly.

Even with the spread of the COVID-19 virus, human smugglers continue to try these brazen attempts with zero regard for the lives they endanger nor to the health of the citizens of our great nation. The US Border Patrol agents of the Rio Grande Valley Sector will continue to safeguard the nation and community against these criminal elements.

A small town in southern New Mexico has grown used to treating the injuries of people who hurt themselves crossing over the border wall:

Sunland Park, New Mexico, sits on the border of El Paso, Texas, and the Mexican state of Chihuahua. The border wall was built by a private organization and stretches across a half-mile of land between Mexico and the town.

Sunland Park Fire Chief Daniel Medrano told Newsweek that the wall is 20 to 30 feet tall. There are rope ladders and other tools to help migrants climb up on the Mexico side but nothing to assist them on the US side, so scaling down the steel bars is a dangerous feat.

While crime in Sunland Park is low, Border Patrol officials say the area is a hot spot in the El Paso sector for human smuggling, according to WAVY-TV. Criminal organizations operating out of the bordering neighborhood of Anapra in Juárez, Mexico, will take migrants to the wall and then leave them to get across on their own.

In late March, Border Patrol security cameras in Sunland Park caught two men drop two Ecuadorian toddlers, ages 3 and 5, from the top of the wall. The girls were rescued and have been since reunited with their parents in New York, according to WAVY.

“This is a very new situation for us, what’s going on at the border wall,” Medrano told the station. “That wall is thick metal, and most people aren’t strong enough to hold themselves securely to get down safely.”

Medrano said that most of his firefighters have medical training, which has been helpful, considering how many injured migrants they treat as part of their routine. In the past six to eight months, Medrano told Newsweek, calls about injuries at the wall have been “upwards five a day.”

He also said that most of the injuries come from “people holding on to the top of the wall and losing their grip and falling” and that they’re mostly all “lower extremities.” People have been known to break legs and ankles, sometimes injuring their shoulders and back from landing on their sides.

Indictment of Rodney Tolson:

To Read the entire Charging Document use this link : documentcloud.org

Sources: Newsweek  / GIM.com  / Newsweek  / USCBP / WAVY / lawandcrime.com / dailycaller.com / lmtonline.com



Source: http://www.borderlandbeat.com/2021/05/texas-bp-agent-charged-w-human.html



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