EL PASO, Texas – A Dallas woman pleaded guilty in a federal court in El Paso Wednesday to charges in connection to her role as a stash house operator and coordinator of a human smuggling organization operating in far west Texas.
According to court documents, Elizabeth Miranda Lozano, 39, joined and actively participated in an ongoing conspiracy to bring in, transport, and harbor undocumented immigrants into the U.S. from Mexico through Hudspeth County from on or about November 2019 through on or about August 2021. Lozano began working for the human smuggling organization as a transport driver, picking up noncitizens near Sierra Blanca and delivering them to stash houses in the Dallas area, as well as in the Phoenix, Arizona area. In 2020, she had graduated to running stash houses in the Dallas area for the organization.
In May 2020, a co-conspirator of Lozano’s guided a group of undocumented individuals on a two-to-three-day trek to a pickup location east of the U.S. Border Patrol’s Sierra Blanca Checkpoint. Another co-conspirator, who Lozano had trained, was assigned as the pickup driver, but before the group reach the pickup location, one of the undocumented individuals began to struggle and subsequently died. The group abandoned the deceased migrant along with his son, who was eventually found by USBP agents.
Lozano pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to bring in aliens resulting in death and faces a maximum sentence up to life in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
U.S. Attorney Jaime Esparza of the Western District of Texas made the announcement.
Homeland Security Investigations; USBP; Immigration and Customs Enforcement; U.S. Marshals Service; FBI; The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and the Drug Enforcement Administration are investigating the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Patricia Acosta and Jose Luis Acosta are prosecuting the case.
This case was supported by Joint Task Force Alpha (JTFA). JTFA was created by the Attorney General in June 2021 in partnership with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), to strengthen the Department’s overall efforts to combat these crimes based on the rise in prolific and dangerous smuggling from and through Central America and impacting our border communities. JTFA’s goal is to disrupt and dismantle those human smuggling and trafficking networks operating in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico, with a focus on networks that endanger, abuse or exploit migrants, present national security risks, or engage in other types of transnational organized crime.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas helps lead JTFA, which is comprised of detailees from southwest border U.S. Attorney’s Offices, including the Southern District of Texas, the Western District of Texas, the District of New Mexico, the District of Arizona, and the Southern District of California, and dedicated support for the program is also provided by numerous components of the Criminal Division that are part of JTFA – led by the Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section (HRSP), and supported by the Office of Prosecutorial Development, Assistance, and Training (OPDAT), the Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section (NDDS), the Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section (MLARS), the Office of Enforcement Operations (OEO), the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs (OIA), and the Organized Crime and Gang Section (OCGS). JTFA is made possible by substantial law enforcement commitment from DHS, FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and other partners.