BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Documents in a recent court case reveal illegal aliens are being transported in smuggling operations through Jefferson County.
A four-count indictment ealier this month charged Julio Alberto Baldares-Garcia, a 23-year-old from Honduras, with knowingly transporting illegal immigrants through Jefferson County. Baldares-Garcia and the 10 Hispanic individuals he was transporting were first spotted by an officer at a rest area near the town of Eutaw in Greene County, Alabama.
According to a statement from the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE), Baldares-Garcia was transporting the individuals for “private financial gain.” However, what he was charging may pale in comparison to the maximum penalty for alien smuggling—10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
In their affidavit ICE recorded details of the Baldares-Garcia arrest and how his transport of the illegal aliens compared to a typical smuggling operation.
According to the statement, immigrants wishing to cross the border illegally must typically pay an upfront fee to the smuggling organization before even entering the U.S.. After crossing the border, the smuggler takes the aliens to a “stash house” where another fee is usually demanded. Once paid, the smugglers will transport the aliens and pass them off to other smugglers until they have reached their final destination.
This process can be repeated multiple times as the immigrants are passed from one “coyote” to another, before they make it to their final destination.
According to the affidavit, Baldares-Garcia and human cargo were participating in a relatively typical smuggling operation. Baldares-Garcia did not have a valid driver’s license and stated that he and the passengers were not in the United States legally when asked by the officer that saw them exit their vehicle at the rest stop.
Some of the passengers were also questioned, with one man revealing he paid $4,500 before he could leave the stash house in Texas. He also stated that on the night before, he and the other illegal aliens had been taken to a McDonald’s parking lot where Baldares-Garcia entered the vehicle and began driving them.
The passengers would have been required to pay another $1,100 upon arrival to their final destination in Virginia.
According to the affidavit, this wasn’t Baldares-Garcia’s first time to transport individuals through Birmingham.
Immigration has become a central question in the 2016 Presidential race, with several candidates making border enforcement and immigration reform solutions a significant tenet of their campaigns.
Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions (R), long one of the most outspoken conservative voices on the immigration issue, helped candidate Donald Trump craft his own platform on the issue, and has influenced several presidential hopefuls.