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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Texas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Woman Sent to Prison for Smuggling a Minor Child into the United States

BROWNSVILLE, Texas – A 42-year-old Raymondville woman has been sentenced following her conviction of attempting to bring a minor alien into the United States, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick. Melissa Grimaldo pleaded guilty Aug. 7, 2018.  

Today, U.S. District Judge Rolando Olvera handed Grimaldo a 21-month sentence.  

A co-conspirator from Austin contacted Grimaldo via Facebook Messenger and hired her to smuggle a minor child into the United States from Mexico. Grimaldo used the Social Security card and identifying information of her own biological daughter to prepare the child to evade American authorities.   

On April 2, 2018, Grimaldo and her boyfriend, a self-registered sex-offender, crossed into Mexico, picked up the minor child from her family and attempted to enter the United States through the pedestrian lanes at the Gateway International Bridge in Brownsville. Grimaldo claimed the minor child was her own and presented her biological child’s Social Security card. She also told authorities she had submitted applications for U.S. Passports for both herself and the minor child, but they had not yet been processed.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers questioned the minor child about the child’s school, teachers, grade level, age and birthday. The child  gave answers that were inconsistent with the identification Grimaldo provided. The minor child grew very nervous and began looking around the room and avoiding eye contact with the officers.

After further questioning, Grimaldo admitted the child was not hers or a U.S. citizen, admitting she was to be paid $2000 to transport the child into the United States. She also admitted the identifying documents were that of her own biological daughter who had been taken away by Child Protective Services. Grimaldo was to take the child to her home to further coordinate the smuggling conspiracy. 

She has been and will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

CBP conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Holly D’Andrea prosecuted the case.

Topic(s): 
Immigration
Human Smuggling
Component(s): 
Updated November 7, 2018