Feds shut down tractor-trailer smuggling operation

Feds shut down tractor-trailer smuggling operation
Homeland Security-El Paso special agents and law enforcement partners prepare to execute search and arrest warrants at a local truck yard and area residence in connection to a human smuggling case on Sept. 30. (Courtesy: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement)

EL PASO, Texas – Federal agents arrested a Texas man on Oct. 5 for harboring and transporting more than 100 noncitizens who were driven to various U.S. cities in tractor-trailers.

Roberto Benavides, 47, was arrested at his residence in the 14000 block of Warren Belin Drive in Horizon City, Texas, according to a news release from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE).

Benavides was a target of a Homeland Security-El Paso investigation for more than a year, the news release stated.

ICE, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and El Paso members of the Border Enforcement Security Taskforce investigated the case with the assistance of the U.S. Border Patrol’s (USBP)and El Paso Sector Integrated Targeting Team (ITT).

“Human smugglers are callous individuals who are driven by greed with total disregard for the health and safety of the people they exploit and endanger,” Acting Special Agent in Charge Taekuk Cho said. “HSI will continue to work tirelessly utilizing our broad authorities alongside our partners to combat smuggling networks responsible for this dangerous and often deadly activity.”

El Paso Sector Chief Patrol Agent Gloria I. Chavez said that she is “extremely proud of the work our El Paso Sector agents conduct each and every day to disrupt these Transnational Criminal Organizations. Our seamless partnership with Homeland Security Investigations has allowed for enhanced targeting of this illicit activity. Together, we will continue to succeed in combating these criminal organizations while saving human lives in the El Paso region.”

On Sept. 30, agents also executed two federal search warrants on two area properties used to facilitate human smuggling activity, according to the ICE news release.

Agents seized more than $27,000 from both properties and encountered 37 noncitizens, including 23 Hondurans, six Ecuadorans, four Peruvians, two Mexicans and two El Salvadorans.

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Feds shut down tractor-trailer smuggling operation