CBP Officers at the Pharr International Bridge Nab Child Smugglers
PHARR, TEXAS—Officers with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the Pharr International Bridge arrested two adult females who were allegedly attempting to smuggle minor girls in two separate, unrelated incidents.
The first incident occurred Thursday evening, January 31, when a silver 1997 Kia Sephia arrived at the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge. The driver, a 31-year-old female El Salvador national from Donna, Texas presented her lawful permanent resident card and then presented a Texas birth certificate for a 15-year-old female who she claimed was her daughter. A CBP officer referred the vehicle and occupants to secondary for further inspection and document review and it was there that officers discovered that the minor female was not related to the adult female but was in fact a citizen and national from El Salvador without valid documents to legally enter or reside in the United States.
The second incident also occurred at the same border crossing on the same date later that evening. CBP officers encountered a tan GMC Sierra pickup truck driven by a 26-year-old female United States citizen from Penitas, Texas who was accompanied by a five-year-old female who she claimed was her niece. The occupants were referred to secondary for a closer examination after the adult female claimed the child was a United States citizen but could not provide a birth certificate. In secondary the adult female claimed she had forgotten the birth certificate but after further investigation, it was revealed that the minor female was not related to her but was truly a citizen and national from Mexico without valid documents to legally enter or reside in the United States.
The two adult females were arrested and incarcerated pending appearance before a U.S. Federal Magistrate on criminal charges for alleged violation of U.S. immigration law. The five-year-old child was released to her biological mother who arrived at the port of entry afterwards and the 15-year-old minor was released to a U.S. Health and Human Services-Office of Resettlement (HHS-ORR) facility where she'll be temporarily housed.
"These two failed child smuggling attempts were foiled due to our officers' excellent observational skills, outstanding investigative techniques and great attention to detail," said Efrain Solis Jr., Port Director, Hidalgo/Pharr/Anzalduas. "Those involved in these type of activities will face consequences and we will seek prosecution to the fullest extent allowed by law."