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December 28, 2017Laredo, TX, United StatesHuman Smuggling/Trafficking

2 South Texas women charged with transporting 4 Mexican national minors into the US

LAREDO, Texas — Federal charges were filed Thursday against two women who were allegedly transporting four unaccompanied minors from Mexico into the United States.

These criminal charges were announced by Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez, Southern District of Texas. This case is being investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), CBP’s Border Patrol, and Laredo Police Department.

Olga Patricia Reyes, 30, from Laredo residing in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, and Leslie Chavira, 25, also from Laredo, appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Guillermo R. Garcia Dec. 28. Both women were charged with transporting four unaccompanied minor children who are all citizens of Mexico.

According to the criminal complaint, on Dec. 20, 2017, Reyes applied for admission into the United States from Mexico at the Laredo Port of Entry accompanied by a minor child. She first claimed the child was a relative and allegedly presented a birth certificate as proof of citizenship. However, the investigation revealed she did not actually know the child. The charges allege Reyes had previously used birth certificates to successfully smuggle three additional unaccompanied minor children into the United States from Mexico. Those children were ultimately found at Chavira’s Laredo residence, according to the charges.

“Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) works closely with its law enforcement partners in pursuit of identifying, arresting and bringing to justice those individuals suspected of human smuggling,” said HSI Special Agent in Charge Shane Folden. “We will continue to utilize our broad authorities to target those believed to engage in such practices and place personal profit ahead of public safety.”

“We applaud the excellent work of our frontline officers in uncovering the initial immigration violation and the spirit of teamwork between law enforcement that led to a positive outcome and location of three minor alien children,” said CBP Laredo Field Office Director David P. Higgerson.

If convicted, both women face up to 10 years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Julian Castaneda, Southern District of Texas, is prosecuting this case.

A criminal complaint is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.