Pickaway County Man Pleads Guilty to Transporting Illegal Aliens from Mexico with Cousin in Texas
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Two cousins have each been charged in the Southern District of Ohio with unlawfully transporting illegal aliens, primarily Mexican citizens, within the United States.
Bromley D. Hackney, 57, of Ashville, Ohio, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court today to one count of transportation of an alien within the United States. Robert G. Smith, 58, of Natalia, Texas, was charged by criminal complaint with the same crime and arrested this morning in Texas.
Benjamin C. Glassman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Steve Francis, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Ohio State Highway Patrol Superintendent Col. Paul A. Pride and officials with U.S. Border Patrol announced the charges and the plea entered into before U.S. District Judge Michael H. Watson.
According to an affidavit filed in support of the Criminal Complaint charging Smith, in October 2016, HSI agents received information from the Ohio State Highway Patrol regarding the suspected unlawful transportation of aliens. The source alleged that Hackney was using a semi-truck to move undocumented aliens within the United States for profit.
In December 2016, Hackney was stopped at a Border Patrol checkpoint near Laredo, Texas and agents found four undocumented aliens attempting to conceal themselves in hidden compartments in the cabin of the freight box truck. All of the individuals were taken into custody and later released.
Hackney agreed to be interviewed by investigators in Ohio in March 2017 and said he “knew that this day would come” and was going to go to a Border Patrol station soon to inquire about a possible investigation involving him. He admitted that he unlawfully transported aliens, which he and Smith began to do during the year 2011.
Smith, who was interviewed in June 2017, told investigators he would receive calls from a subject using the alias “Skinny” who would give him instructions on where to pick up the illegal aliens to be unlawfully transported. Smith would then contact others to arrange some of the transports, which he did approximately four times per week. He earned at least $2,000 per week coordinating the transactions.
Smith unlawfully transported aliens at least 72 times from 2011 through 2016 and transported four individuals each time. At first, he charged $800 per person and after the first two years increased the cost to $1,000 per person. The total amount of proceeds from the offense was nearly $269,000.
Transportation of an alien within the United States is a federal crime punishable by up to five years in prison.
“Smuggling human beings is a noxious business,” U.S. Attorney Glassman said. “We don’t want this sort of unlawful activity taking place in the Southern District of Ohio, and we’ll continue to work to identify and prosecute those who profit from transporting people illegally.”
“Dismantling criminal smuggling operations which prey on human beings with absolutely no regard for human life is a top priority for HSI," said Steve Francis, special agent in charge of HSI Detroit. "We will continue to aggressively pursue these alien smugglers who jeopardize human lives for money."
U.S. Attorney Glassman commended the investigation of this case by HSI, Ohio State Highway Patrol and U.S. Border Patrol, as well as Assistant United States Attorney Timothy D. Prichard, who is the District’s Immigration and Border Security Coordinator and who is representing the United States in this case.
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