Military Men Admit to Human Smuggling
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Two active duty Army soldiers have entered guilty pleas to smuggling two illegal aliens through a U.S. Border Patrol (BP) checkpoint, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson along with Special Agent in Charge Mark Dawson of Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Marco Antonio Nava Jr., 19, and Joseph Edmond Cleveland, 25, both of El Paso, admitted they smuggled two Illegal aliens through the BP checkpoint in Falfurrias. They claimed that they were approached by a man who offered to give them $1,500 if they came to the valley to drive two illegal aliens through the checkpoint. On June 19, 2016, the defendants approached the checkpoint with the two illegal aliens in the rear passenger seats of the vehicle. The BP agent asked one of the passengers if he had documents to be in the United States legally to which he said no. Both passengers were ultimately found to be aliens unlawfully present in the U.S. and taken into custody.
Upon questioning, the illegal aliens stated they crossed into the country eight days prior and had been moved to two different trailer homes. On the day of their arrest, they were told by a person in the trailer home that someone was going to come to pick them up and take them Houston. Nava was driving and told them to get into the vehicle. Once inside, the illegal aliens were told they were going to go through an immigration checkpoint and were coached as what to answer to the agent's questions at the checkpoint.
Nava and Cleveland face up to 10 years in federal prison. They were permitted to remain on bond pending sentencing, which is set for Feb. 9, 2017.
HSI conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey S. Miller is prosecuting the case.