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Grand Rapids mom, others indicted for allegedly smuggling son from Mexico

By John Agar
on January 05, 2013

GRAND RAPIDS, MI Ė Zory Elizabeth Rivera-Duenas wanted her 10-year-old son to join her in Grand Rapids.

The trouble: She is here illegally, while her son is a citizen of Mexico, the government said.

Authorities allege Rivera-Duenas paid $1,500 to have her son smuggled into the country. The plan nearly worked as the alleged transporters got her son all the way to Grandville before they were stopped by state police in April.

These allegations are contained in an indictment filed in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids.

Rivera-Dueanas has not been arrested, but is named in the three-count indictment charging her with conspiracy and bringing in and harboring illegal aliens.

Others named are Ricardo Torres-Navarro, his girlfriend, Ademia Penaloza, and her 18-year-old son, Rodrigo Moran-Penaloza.

The government said Rivera-Duenas took steps to bring her son here in late March.

She offered Torres-Navarro and Ademia Penaloza $1,500 to travel to Mexico and bring him to Kent County, the indictment said.

Torres-Navarro accepted, court records showed. He allegedly asked Penaloza to bring her 9-year-old sonís birth certificate that would be used as documentation for Rivera-Duenas' child. The couple also recruited her son in the mistaken belief that he had a valid driverís license.

The trio left Grand Rapids in a 2002 Chevrolet Avalanche on April 6, records show. They reached Texas the next day, and stayed overnight in a hotel near Lewisville, Texas. On April 8, they traveled to the Mexican border.

The men, both U.S. citizens, took a shuttle to the Port of Entry at Eagle Pass, Texas. Ademia Penaloza stayed behind. She was in the U.S. illegally, and worried she would be discovered, the government said.

The men crossed into Mexico on foot. They were to look for an elderly woman with a child. Once they found the woman and child, they handed back to the U.S., authorities say.

They encountered an interior checkpoint, where an immigration inspector was presented with Penaloza's son's birth certificate. They managed to mislead officers into thinking Rivera-Duenas' child was entering the U.S. legally, Assistant U.S. Attorney Donald Daniels wrote.

After getting beyond the border, the group spent the night in San Antonio. The next morning, they stopped at the Texas Department of Public Safety so that Torres-Navarro could obtain a temporary driverís permit to make sure there would be a licensed driver in the vehicle if they were stopped on the way to Michigan.

They were in the Grandville area on April 10 when a state police trooper conducted a traffic stop. The adults were arrested and have subsequently been released on unsecured bonds.

The mother has not been arrested. Records did not disclose her sonís status.
Grand Rapids mom, others indicted for allegedly smuggling son from Mexico |