MCALLEN, Texas (AP) — Three people have been arrested and accused of trying to transport smuggled migrants into the interior of the United States by air, bypassing Border Patrol checkpoints, according to court records.
Court documents show that James Martinez, Luis Armando Lopez-Alvarado and Desiree Love Rodarte were charged with human smuggling and human smuggling conspiracy after their arrest Sunday at a Texas airport. They are being held without bond.
An arrest affidavit shows U.S. Homeland Security Investigations agents had the Mid-Valley Airport in the lower Rio Grande Valley city of Weslaco under surveillance Sunday when they saw Martinez and Lopez-Alvarado drop off six people who boarded a chartered Beechcraft airplane with Rodarte.
Agents boarded the plane and performed an immigration check that exposed the six as being in the country illegally, and they arrested Martinez, Lopez and Rodarte.
Martinez and Lopez declined to give agents any statement, but Rodarte told them that she had arranged to transport to the U.S. interior people who had crossed the border illegally.
Three of the six migrants were held as material witnesses until their testimony could be recorded. In the affidavit, the Salvadoran nationals said they had been picked up, two from a stash house and one from a hotel, then driven to the airport to be flown deeper into the United States.
Messages to attorneys for the three suspects were not returned immediately. A Homeland Security Investigations spokesperson declined to comment, saying the criminal investigation was ongoing.