Federal Grand Jury in Del Rio Indicts Mother and Daughter in Fraudulent Family Unit Case
In Del Rio, a federal grand jury indicted a mother and daughter in a scheme to illegally bring a child, to which neither one was related, into the country, stated U.S. Attorney John F. Bash; Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge Shane Folden, San Antonio Division; U.S. Border Patrol Del Rio Sector Chief Raul L. Ortiz; and, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw.
“Protecting innocent children must be the number one priority of our border security system. This office stands ready to prosecute anyone who commits a federal offense that harms a child,” said U.S. Attorney Bash.
The indictment, returned Wednesday afternoon, charges 42–year-old Aida Martinez of Eagle Pass, TX, and 20-year-old Aida Rodriguez, a U.S. citizen residing in Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico, with one count of conspiracy to bring an alien into the U.S., one substantive count of bringing an alien into the U.S., and one count of making a false statement to a federal agent.
According to court records, on September 23, 2019, the defendants brought an undocumented female, approximately two years old, into the U.S. through the Eagle Pass Port of Entry while fraudulently using Rodriguez’s actual daughter’s birth certificate. Later that day, federal and state authorities arrested the defendants and recovered the unknown child as they were travelling northbound on Highway 57 near Batesville, TX. The defendants initially provided conflicting statements to investigators, but later admitted their intent was to take the child to unknown individuals in San Antonio, collect payment for the child, then return the money to co-conspirators in Piedras Negras.
“HSI’s message is clear – our priority is to protect the children,” said HSI Special Agent in Charge Folden. “HSI will continue to partner with the Border Patrol to identify and dismantle the criminal organizations using fraud to smuggle children.”
“Of all the people that smugglers exploit, children are the most vulnerable,” said Del Rio Sector Chief Patrol Agent Raul L. Ortiz. “Thanks to the cooperative efforts between HSI and Border Patrol, this child was removed from a dangerous situation and properly cared for.”
Martinez and Rodriguez have remained in federal custody since their arrest on September 23, 2019. The child has been placed in the care of the Department of Health and Human Services.
Upon conviction, the defendants face up to ten years in federal prison on the conspiracy charge, between three and ten years in federal prison on the substantive alien smuggling charge, and up to five years in federal prison for the false statement charge,
HSI agents, with assistance from the Texas Department of Public Safety and the U.S. Border Patrol Del Rio Sector, are conducting this investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney James Ward is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
It is important to note that an indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.