Two Washington residents suspected of transporting illegal aliens who crossed into United States from Canada appear in court
GREAT FALLS – A citizen of Mexico today admitted he illegally transported aliens for compensation after he was arrested in November in Glacier County by Border Patrol agents who were investigating suspected alien smuggling from Canada, U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme said.
Josue Bermudez-Lopez, 26, pleaded guilty to transportation of illegal aliens. Bermudez-Lopez 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 Feb. 13, 2020. Bermudez-Lopez was detained.
The prosecution said in court records filed in the case that on Nov. 17 at about 11:15 p.m., Border Patrol agents conducted traffic stops of two vehicles south of the United States-Canada border in Glacier County. In the first vehicle, which was a Chevrolet Suburban, the agent found the driver and nine passengers. All of the passengers admitted to being in the United States illegally. During the stop of the second vehicle, a Chevrolet Tahoe, all of the occupants ran into a nearby field. Agents found eight individuals within one to two minutes. Each of the individuals admitted to being in the United States illegally.
One of the persons caught in the field and seated on the ground against a Border Patrol vehicle was recognized as Bermudez-Lopez. Bermudez-Lopez initially denied his identity. An agent found nearby a discarded fanny pack that contained a Mexican passport with Bermudez-Lopez’s photo and name.
In all, law enforcement transported 19 suspects to the Sweetgrass Border Patrol Station for processing. Four of the transported illegal aliens told agents they had paid from $4,000 to $4,750 to be smuggled into the United States and identified two of Bermudez-Lopez’s co-defendants as a driver and a foot guide.
Bermudez-Lopez admitted to being in the United States illegally and to knowingly transporting illegal aliens for compensation on Nov. 17 and on a previous occasion.
Three co-defendants indicted with Bermudez-Lopez pleaded not guilty on Tuesday.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Paulette Stewart, Jeff Starnes and Ethan Plaut are prosecuting the case, which was investigated by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Glacier County Sheriff’s Office.
Clair Johnson Howard
Public Information Officer