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Press Release

San Antonio Woman Who Acted as Legal Advocate to Smuggle Migrants Sentenced to 14 Years in Federal Prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Texas

DEL RIO, Texas – A San Antonio woman was sentenced in federal court to 168 months in prison for one count of wire fraud.

According to court documents, Kimberly Cruz, 35, orchestrated a scheme in which she misrepresented herself as a legal advocate in order to smuggle migrants into the United States. Between April and October 2019, Cruz convinced multiple migrants and their families that she was an attorney, proceeding to collect identity documents such as birth certificates, voter identifications, passport card, and more from the migrants. In return for the services Cruz promised, migrants deposited a total of $275,911 into her personal accounts.

Using the packets of documents that the migrants had provided her, Cruz misrepresented herself to officers at the Eagle Pass Point of Entry, indicating that the migrants required humanitarian paroles and were permitted to enter the U.S. for 24 to 48 hours for the purpose of attending United States Customs and Immigration Services appointments. Cruz would then transport the migrants to San Antonio, where she would deliver them to family members or drop them off at the airport or a bus station.

Cruz was arrested Oct. 29, 2019 and pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud Oct. 25, 2021. In addition to the imprisonment, Chief Judge Alia Moses ordered Cruz to pay $9,900 in restitution and a forfeiture of more than $271,000.

“This defendant falsely represented herself in order to take advantage of our country’s immigration procedures while putting at risk the lives of more than 95 migrants,” said U.S. Attorney Jaime Esparza for the Western District of Texas. “I am grateful for the diligent efforts of Homeland Security Investigations in uncovering Cruz’s extensive criminal conduct, and I assure you that my office stands ready to work with all our law enforcement partners to prosecute those who attempt to circumvent the law.”

“The message is clear — have no doubt. Individuals who impersonate a legal advocate to exploit others for their own personal gain, will be held accountable for their crimes,” said Special Agent in Charge Craig Larrabee for HSI San Antonio. “HSI is committed to bringing to justice human smugglers that prey on the vulnerable with no regard for the well-being of the people they smuggle.”

HSI investigated the case. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joshua Banister prosecuted the case.


Updated June 17, 2024

Financial Fraud
Human Smuggling