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  1. #1
    Super Moderator Newmexican's Avatar
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    May 2005
    Heart of Dixie

    Charges filed against alleged human smuggler

    Charges filed against alleged human smuggler

    summit daily news
    December 7, 2006

    Summit County, CO Colorado

    BRECKENRIDGE - District Attorney Mark Hurlbert filed six counts of felony human smuggling against Enrique Alberto Lopez-Baca on Wednesday, making him the first person in Summit County to be charged with the crime at the state level since a change in the law in June.

    Cases of human smuggled used to be handled only at the federal level, but state lawmakers passed a bill earlier this year making it a felony under state law to receive money in exchange for helping someone enter the U.S. illegally.

    Frisco police officers arrested Lopez-Baca, 27, on Nov. 28 at the Kentucky Friend Chicken after a citizen called to report a large group of Hispanic males eating at the restaurant who were all underdressed for the cold weather.

    Lopez-Baca, also an illegal alien, told police he was driving a minivan with 16 passengers from Mexico to New York.

    At least five of the passengers told police officers that they had paid, or agreed to pay Lopez-Baca up to $2,300 for transportation to jobs in the U.S. None said he was coming to work in Colorado.

    Each count of human smuggling is punishable by four to 16 years in prison and fines of up to $750,000.

    Lopez-Baca also faces one count of obstructing a peace officer for trying to flee the scene before he was arrested. He has applied for representation from the public defender. His next court date is Dec. 12.

    Previous article ... /112050053

    Frisco police arrest suspected 'coyote'

    summit daily news
    December 5, 2006

    Summit County, CO Colorado

    FRISCO - A 27-year-old man could face felony human smuggling and trafficking charges following his arrest in Frisco last week for allegedly charging a group of illegal aliens to drive them across the country for jobs.

    Enrique Alberto Lopez-Baca, also an illegal alien, is lodged in the Summit County Jail on suspicion of receiving a child in a human trafficking transaction and human smuggling, both class 3 felonies, and resisting arrest, a misdemeanor.

    Earlier this year, Colorado state lawmakers passed a bill making it a felony under state law to receive money in exchange for helping someone enter the U.S. illegally. Previously, cases of human smuggling were handled only at the federal level.

    District Attorney Mark Hurlbert expects to officially file charges against Lopez-Baca today, but as of Tuesday afternoon, he hadn't yet determined whether human smuggling would be one of them.

    If it is, Lopez-Baca would be the first person in Summit County to face the charge since the law changed in June, Hurlbert said.

    On Monday, Hurlbert filed 43 charges, including 14 counts of smuggling humans, in a similar case in Clear Creek County against Jose Franco-Rodriguez, who was allegedly driving a minivan carrying 14 passengers when he crashed on I-70 near Idaho Springs last week, killing four of them.

    In the Frisco case, Lopez-Baca was allegedly driving a minivan from Mexico to New York filled with 16 Hispanic males ranging in age from 17 to about 65 when they stopped at the Kentucky Fried Chicken last Wednesday evening, according to a report from the Frisco Police Department.

    A citizen saw the group at the fast-food restaurant and called dispatch because they were all underdressed for the cold weather and were sharing one bucket of chicken.

    Officers arrived and talked to Lopez-Baca, who said that he had been driving the mini-van, but didn't think he was doing anything wrong, the report said.

    He stated that he owned the minivan, and that the registration was in the vehicle in the parking lot. Two officers led Lopez-Baca out to the vehicle to obtain the registration, and noticed a male lying in the in the back of the van with no shoes or jacket on, while the temperatures outside were about 5 degrees. One officer escorted the male inside, leaving Lopez-Baca outside with the second officer.

    Lopez-Baca then took off running toward the Holiday Inn parking lot, but the officer caught and arrested him, the report said.

    Officers found a list of passenger names and their destinations inside the van.

    They interviewed the 16 passengers and determined that at least five of the men had paid or agreed to pay Lopez-Baca different amounts of money - up to $2,300 - to take them from Nogales, Mexico, to various destinations in the U.S. for work.

    The passengers were taken to the Summit County Jail and later released to Immigration Customs Enforcement officials.

    Lopez-Baca remains in the jail on an Immigration Customs Enforcement hold. His case is scheduled on the Summit County District Court docket on Dec. 12.
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  2. #2
    Administrator Jean's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    I guess our government doesn't always get aggressive by going into Mexico to look for people they need for a case.

    Witnesses deported, suspect freed

    D.A. dismisses case against alleged smuggler who brought illegal immigrants to Frisco

    Nicole Formosa
    Vail, CO Colorado
    February 9, 2007

    SUMMIT COUNTY — A month ago, Enrique Alberto Lopez-Baca sat in the Summit County jail facing a maximum of 96 years in prison for six felony human smuggling charges, stemming from his arrest in November at a Frisco fast-food restaurant.

    Today, the 27-year-old illegal immigrant is free, despite a new law designed to crack down on “coyotes” by making human smuggling a felony that could be tried at the state level.

    Lopez-Baca was accused of charging a van full of illegal immigrants up to $2,300 each to bring them across the border for work in the U.S. Frisco police officers arrested Lopez-Baca on Nov. 29 after a tip led them to the restaurant where the group of 17 was eating.

    The case against him would have been the first of its kind prosecuted in Summit County under a law adopted last May. But on Jan. 9, Summit County District Attorney Mark Hurlbert dropped all the charges against Lopez-Baca, except for one count of obstructing a peace officer.

    Lopez-Baca pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor, spent 60 days in jail — 42 of which he’d already served at the time of sentencing — and was deported back to Mexico.

    Hurlbert said he had no choice but to dismiss the more serious charges because federal Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, had deported all the witnesses in the case by the time he heard about it four days after the arrests occurred.

    “We try to work with ICE ... and this happened so fast that they had them deported before we even had police reports,” Hurlbert said, adding that the group had been sent back to Mexico 12 hours after the incident.

    Hurlbert’s lead investigator spent hours on the telephone talking to immigration officials and Mexican authorities trying to locate the group, to no avail.

    “We tried hard to find them,” he said.

    A district attorney’s office must alert Immigration and Customs Enforcement that somebody in federal custody could be needed as a witness in a state case, agency spokesman Carl Rusnok said .

    “One of the things I want to emphasize is we can’t just say, ‘We’ve got people in custody under immigration charges. We’ll hold these folks for you as long as you want.’ That doesn’t happen. That can’t happen,” Rusnok said.

    As soon as travel documents are obtained for illegals in federal custody, which can take anywhere from a couple days to months depending on the country of origin, they’re sent home, Rusnok said.

    Hurlbert said there are still kinks to be worked out of the new law and is working with local police chiefs to discuss the best way to notify Immigration and Customs Enforcement “that we might want to keep these people around.”

    If the immigrants have not committed a state crime, like the witnesses in the Lopez-Baca case, the jail notifies Immigration and Customs Enforcement, then holds the group in the patrol room, feeds them and sometimes even provides medication, while waiting for immigration officials to arrive, Summit County Sheriff John Minor said.

    Because folks in that situation haven’t committed a state crime, the jail cannot legally detain them and must turn them over to the federal agency, Minor said.

    “We have to be cognizant of the fact that in the human smuggling cases, we call ICE, (and) they just come trotting down and take them away. It’s like, ‘Wow, what do we do for witnesses?’” Minor said.

    Despite this case, the process has worked properly elsewhere in Hurlbert’s district, he said.

    On Nov. 27, Jose Francisco Franco-Rodriguez, 23, was allegedly driving a van packed with 14 people through Clear Creek County when he crashed, killing three men and a pregnant woman.

    The surviving passengers, some of whom were hospitalized after the accident, are being held as witnesses for Franco-Rodriguez’s trial.
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