Two U.S. Soldiers Face Human Smuggling Charges in South Texas


Two U.S. soldiers face human smuggling charges for allegedly trying to transport a pair of migrants through an immigration checkpoint. The soldiers were in uniform at the time of the alleged attempt.

According to information released by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, 20-year-old Emmanuel Oppongagyare and 18-year-old Ralph Gregory Saint-Joie tried to drive two illegal immigrants from Mexico through a U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint near Hebbronville, Texas. Saint-Joie is active-duty while Oppongagyare is part of the Pennsylvania National Guard. Both are stationed at Fort Hood. During an initial hearing on Tuesday afternoon, U.S. Magistrate Judge Diana Song Quiroga notified both men of the charges against them and set their bonds at $75,000.

The soldiers claimed to be driving from the Rio Grande Valley to San Antonio, but when agents asked why they took a detour through Hebbronville, they reportedly said it was the GPS that sent them there, the criminal complaint revealed.

The response made one of the Border Patrol agents suspicious and asked them to pull over for a secondary inspection. After getting the soldiers out of the vehicle and patted down, agents reportedly spotted the migrants communicating with hushed voices and hand signals.

When agents searched the vehicle, they reportedly found a man and a woman from Mexico in the trunk. During questioning, the two migrants claimed to have crossed the Rio Grande illegally and made arrangements with human smugglers to get them further north.