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3 National Guard Caught Smuggling Illegals

From a conflicted New York Times:

National Guard troops, including these soldiers from Virginia, have been helping federal agents patrol the Mexico border since last June.

3 Guardsmen Charged With Human Smuggling

By RALPH BLUMENTHAL

Published: June 12, 2007

HOUSTON, June 11 — Three members of the Texas National Guard helping patrol the Mexican border have been charged with human smuggling after federal agents found one of them in uniform driving a van crammed with 24 illegal immigrants north of Laredo, the Justice Department said Monday.

The guardsmen, including two sergeants, were assigned to Operation Jump Start assisting the Border Patrol and had run multiple smuggling trips at fees of $1,500 to $2,000 per passenger, according to the complaint by the United States attorney for the Southern District of Texas, Don DeGabrielle.

The complaint cited cellphone text messages exchanged among them like “24 will b tuff 2 fit but ill try.”

The driver accused in the case, Pfc. Jose Rodrigo Torres, 26, of Laredo, was arrested late last Thursday. The two other soldiers, Sgt. Julio Cesar Pacheco, 25, also of Laredo, and Sgt. Clarence Hodge Jr., 36, of Fort Worth, were arrested Friday, and all three appeared in federal court in Laredo early Monday. The federal government, citing policy, declined to release their official booking photographs.

The men were ordered held in the Webb County jail in Laredo on $75,000 bail, pending a preliminary hearing June 19 or a possible federal indictment on smuggling conspiracy charges, which carry penalties of up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000. The three have not entered pleas…

Well, it good finally to hear something about what those National Guardsmen are doing down on the border, since they are prohibited from preventing illegal crossings.

Still, one suspects the New York Times had a hard time with this article.

On the one hand it is a great story about heroes helping poor unfortunate undocumented immigrants to a better life. But on the other, those doing the helping are part of the hated US military.

The federal government, citing policy, declined to release their official booking photographs.

Good idea. We wouldn’t want to be prejudiced by any possible ethnic-looking features of the alleged perps. 

This article was posted by Steve on Tuesday, June 12th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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