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    Moderator Beezer's Avatar
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    Alleged asylum-seeker turned smuggler leads deputies on multi-county chase

    Alleged asylum-seeker turned smuggler leads deputies on multi-county chase

    by: Julian Resendiz
    Posted: Mar 28, 2024 / 04:25 PM CDT
    Updated: Mar 28, 2024 / 04:25 PM CDT

    Second Venezuelan national accused in separate migrant-smuggling scheme in El Paso


    EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Two Venezuelan nationals have been arrested in the past week in connection with separate migrant smuggling attempts in West Texas.

    A police helicopter, sheriff’s deputies and Texas Department of Public Safety troopers participate in the chase of an alleged migrant smuggler …Read More

    On Thursday, a Venezuelan asylum-seeker led law enforcement officials on a multi-county chase that ended in Crockett County with the arrest of the driver of a white SUV and the apprehension of 10 unauthorized migrants from Mexico, NewsNation reported.

    4 family members sentenced for human smuggling ‘family enterprise’ in South Texas
    The pursuit began in Terrell County and ended north of Ozona, Texas.

    The migrants were turned over to the U.S. Border Patrol for processing and the asylum-seeker handed over to the Texas Department of Public Safety for possible criminal investigation.

    On March 21 in El Paso, undercover Border Patrol agents arrested Argelis Jose Mundarai Salazar in a hotel room on the 7100 block of Gateway East Boulevard, where they allegedly found him in charge of two female undocumented migrants staying in room 222.

    Horse trailer hauling pot linked to migrant smuggler

    The agents arrived at the hotel after taking into custody an alleged associate of Mundarai. That man was detained “after a brief struggle” while trying to pick up four individuals who had just come over the border wall near the Ysleta Port of Entry, federal court documents show.

    The driver, identified as Rafael Samaniego Torres, allegedly told investigators he was to be paid $300 by his boss for every migrant he delivered to the hotel room.

    The agents arrived at the drop-off location and found three citizens of Venezuela, a man and two women, inside.

    The Venezuelans allegedly told the agents they had been released from immigration custody pending an immigration hearing, but could not produce the documents, records show.

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    During the interview, the male migrant allegedly told the females in Spanish that the Border Patrol could not examine their cellphones without their passwords. It was then one of the agents allegedly recognized Mundarai as an individual arrested during a failed previous migrant-smuggling event.

    According to a federal complaint affidavit, Mundarai was taken for questioning at the Border Patrol’s Ysleta Station, where an investigator terminated an interview with Mundarai after realizing the Venezuelan “was not being truthful.”

    Samaniego, on the other hand, told authorities Mundarai “was essentially his boss” and shared profits of smuggling ventures with him, the complaint alleges. Samaniego let investigators examine his phone, which included a conversation with Mundarai, aka “Angel” and “Nino.”

    Visit the homepage for the latest exclusive stories and breaking news about issues along the U.S.-Mexico border

    Records show both Samaniego and Mundarai have been detained – and released – for immigration violations in the U.S. before.

    Records also show Mundarai was arrested in Las Cruces, New Mexico, on March 2023 on a federal misdemeanor immigration charge of aiding and abetting, and on February 2024 in New York on state charges of petty larceny and criminal possession of stolen property.

    Mundarai and Samaniego were scheduled to appear at a detention hearing this week in a federal courtroom in El Paso.

    Last edited by Beezer; 03-29-2024 at 03:30 PM.


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