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Press Release

Florida woman admits trying to transport illegal aliens

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Montana

GREAT FALLS – A Florida woman today admitted she drove to Sweetgrass in September last year to try to pick up three illegal aliens from Mexico to take them back to Florida, U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme said.

Lucia Marlene Mendez, 34, of Tampa, Fla., pleaded guilty to attempted transportation of an illegal alien. Mendez faces a maximum 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.

U.S. District Judge Brian M. Morris presided and set sentencing for May 6. Mendez was released pending further proceedings.

The prosecution said in court records that at about 4:15 a.m. on Sept. 8, 2019, a Border Patrol agent saw a suspicious black 2018 Dodge Caravan, with a Florida license plate registered to a vehicle rental company, driving in Sweetgrass, about a block from where three illegal aliens from Mexico had been apprehended.

Border Patrol agents pulled over the Caravan, and Mendez, the driver, and a passenger, her boyfriend, were identified. Mendez is a U.S. citizen, but boyfriend was an undocumented alien from Mexico and in the country illegally. Mendez initially told agents that she was on vacation and was looking for a hotel. After being told that one of the undocumented aliens had already told an agent that she was coming to pick them up, Mendez acknowledged she was there to get them.

Mendez told agents that she was to be paid $600 for driving from Florida to Sweetgrass to get the illegal aliens. She was given $1,000 for gas and hotels for roundtrip travel to Montana and back to Florida. Mendez told agents that had she realized how far Sweetgrass was from Florida, she would have asked for more money.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Paulette Stewart is prosecuting the case, which was investigated by the U.S. Border Patrol.



Clair Johnson Howard
Public Information Officer

Updated January 9, 2020