Columbus Man Pleads Guilty to Using Official Emergency Vehicle in Furtherance of Alien Smuggling Conspiracy
ALBUQUERQUE – Samuel Elliott, 30, of Columbus, N.M., pleaded guilty this afternoon in federal court in Las Cruces, N.M., to conspiracy to transport illegal aliens.
Samuel Elliott and his brother Robert Steven Elliott, 28, also of Columbus, were arrested on Sept. 11, 2013, on a criminal complaint charging them with conspiracy to transport illegal aliens. According to the criminal complaint, on Aug. 31, 2013, Border Patrol Agents from the U.S. Border Patrol station in Deming, N.M., went to a trailer in Columbus after receiving a tip. At the trailer, the agents encountered a group of individuals who admitted being Mexican nationals illegally present in the United States.
On Sept. 1, 2013, the Border Patrol initiated an investigation to determine how and by whom the illegal aliens were smuggled into the United States. The investigation revealed that the aliens were smuggled into the United States on Aug. 28, 2013. Once the aliens were in the United States, Samuel Elliott picked up the aliens and transported them to the trailer in Columbus where they met Robert Elliott. Samuel Elliott and Robert Elliott instructed the aliens to stay in the trailer until the brothers were ready to smuggle them past the Border Patrol checkpoint and then transport them to Phoenix, Ariz.
On Sept. 4, 2013, Samuel Elliott used an emergency vehicle belonging to the Columbus Fire Department to transport the illegal aliens through the Border Patrol checkpoint on New Mexico Road 11. As he approached the checkpoint, Samuel Elliott activated the vehicle’s emergency sirens to avoid inspection at the checkpoint and drove through the checkpoint. Samuel Elliott met up with Robert Elliott shortly thereafter with the intention of transferring the aliens to Robert so he could transport them to Phoenix. Their plans were disrupted by agents who had been following Samuel Elliott at a distance.
During today’s proceedings, Samuel Elliot pled guilty to participating in the alien transportation conspiracy. His brother Robert Elliott previously entered a guilty plea to the conspiracy on Jan. 22, 2014.
At their sentencing hearings, which have yet to be scheduled, Samuel Elliott and Robert Elliott each face a maximum penalty of ten years in prison. Both men are in federal custody pending their sentencing hearings.
This case was investigated by agents at the Deming Station of the U.S. Border Patrol and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Luis A. Martinez of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office.