Man pleading guilty to human smuggling admits using tractor-trailers
July 10, 2019
A Mexican national who pleaded guilty in federal court to a conspiracy to smuggle people into the United States says one of the tactics used to facilitate the smuggling involved unsuspecting truckers.
Humberto Ramirez-Santos, 47, admitted to his role in a human smuggling organization that facilitated the entrance of an “incalculable” number of individuals from China, Russia, India, Brazil, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico, according to a news release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas.
Ramirez-Santos’ guilty plea was announced the day his trial was scheduled to begin in Victoria, Texas. During the hearing, the court was informed that smuggling trips were taken every week and that the organization used a variety of methods to facilitate the smuggling.
Those methods included selecting a tractor-trailer parked at a South Texas truck stop with a suitable temperature. According to the release, the organization would remove the seal on the trailer and load the people into it. They would then follow the vehicle to the next stop somewhere north of the checkpoint to later retrieve them. The drivers would be unaware of their human cargo and were potentially exposed to criminal liability. The individuals were then transported in closed Penske trucks to Houston.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s release, Ramirez-Santos provided individuals to be smuggled through his contacts in Mexico. He also trained the young members of the organization in how to do counter surveillance.
Senior U.S. District Judge John Rainey accepted the plea and has set sentencing for Oct. 1. Ramirez-Santos faces up to 10 years in prison and a possible $250,000 fine. He was previously released on bond and is permitted to remain on bond pending sentencing.