A Del Rio Texas federal grand jury handed down indictments against a Texas mother and her daughter for their alleged roles in a fraudulent migrant family human smuggling scheme. The indictment claims the two women conspired to bring a two-year-old girl across the border with a U.S. birth certificate belonging to the woman’s actual child.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) agents identified a child being smuggled with two adults falsely claiming to be the child’s relatives, according to Del Rio Sector Border Patrol officials. The two women crossed the border with the small child and claimed to be a family. HSI agents conducted an investigation that concluded the adults had no familial relation to the child, Breitbart Texas reported in September.
In a statement released on Friday by ICE officials, the grand jury indicted 42–year-old Aida Martinez of Eagle Pass, TX, and 20-year-old Aida Rodriguez, a U.S. citizen who resided in Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico, at the time of the offense, for “one count of conspiracy to bring an alien into the U.S., one substantive count of bringing an alien into the U.S., and one count of making a false statement to a federal agent.”
The heavily redacted indictment obtained by Breitbart Texas asserts Martine and Rodriguez conspired with each other and others to baring an alien child illegally across the border from Mexico into Texas for money. It further asserts that the duo actually did smuggle the alien child illegally across the border by presenting a false birth certificate for the child and later Rodriquez lied to investigators about being related to the child.
Rodriquez told investigators that the “minor female that accompanied her was her daughter,” the indictment states in Count Three. Rodriguez allegedly “presented her daughter’s birth certificate to corroborate her claim.”
“The defendant then and there knew the minor female she was traveling with was not her daughter,” Count Three of the indictment concludes.
ICE officials stated:
According to court records, on September 23, 2019, the defendants brought an undocumented female, approximately two years old, into the U.S. through the Eagle Pass Port of Entry while fraudulently using Rodriguez’s actual daughter’s birth certificate. Later that day, federal and state authorities arrested the defendants and recovered the unknown child as they were traveling northbound on Highway 57 near Batesville, TX. The defendants initially provided conflicting statements to investigators, but later admitted their intent was to take the child to unknown individuals in San Antonio, collect payment for the child, then return the money to co-conspirators in Piedras Negras.
Officials have not reported who the child’s actual parents are or how the Texas mother and daughter came into possession of the child.
“Protecting innocent children must be the number one priority of our border security system,” U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas John F Bash said in a written statement. “This office stands ready to prosecute anyone who commits a federal offense that harms a child.”
ICE officials turned the migrant child over to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“HSI’s message is clear – our priority is to protect the children,” HSI Special Agent in Charge Folden added. “HSI will continue to partner with the Border Patrol to identify and dismantle the criminal organizations using fraud to smuggle children.”
Del Rio Border Patrol Sector Chief Patrol Agent Raul L. Ortiz concluded, “Of all the people that smugglers exploit, children are the most vulnerable. Thanks to the cooperative efforts between HSI and Border Patrol, this child was removed from a dangerous situation and properly cared for.”
The HSI Eagle Pass office led the investigation that resulted in the indictment of Martinez and Rodriquez on Wednesday. The Texas Department of Public Safety and U.S. Border Patrol provided assistance in the case.
If convicted on the charges, Martinez and Rodriguez could each face up to ten years in federal prison.