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October 5, 2021El Paso, TX, United StatesHuman Smuggling/Trafficking

HSI El Paso arrests human smuggler for harboring and transporting more than 100 noncitizens in tractor-trailers throughout the US

HSI El Paso special agents and law enforcement partners prepare to execute search and arrest warrants at a local truck yard and area residence in connection to a human smuggling case on Thursday, Sept. 30.

EL PASO, Texas – An area man was arrested Thursday for harboring and transporting more than 100 noncitizens who were driven to various U.S. cities in tractor-trailers.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) El Paso members of the Border Enforcement Security Taskforce investigated the case with the assistance of the U.S. Border Patrol’s (USBP) El Paso Sector Integrated Targeting Team (ITT). El Paso Sector USBP agents are embedded with HSI special agents to combine resources and intelligence to identify and arrest human smugglers. The Horizon City (Texas) Police Department also participated in this case.

Roberto Benavides, 47, was arrested at his residence in the 14000 block of Warren Belin Drive in Horizon City, Texas. He was a target of an HSI El Paso investigation for more than a year.

“Human smugglers are callous individuals who are driven by greed with total disregard for the health and safety of the people they exploit and endanger,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Taekuk Cho. “HSI will continue to work tirelessly utilizing our broad authorities alongside our partners to combat smuggling networks responsible for this dangerous and often deadly activity.”

“I am extremely proud of the work our El Paso Sector agents conduct each and every day to disrupt these Transnational Criminal Organizations.” said El Paso Sector Chief Patrol Agent Gloria I. Chavez. “Our seamless partnership with Homeland Security Investigations has allowed for enhanced targeting of this illicit activity. Together, we will continue to succeed in combating these criminal organizations while saving human lives in the El Paso region.”

On Sept. 30, agents also executed two federal search warrants on two area properties used to facilitate human smuggling activity. Agents seized more than $27,000 from both properties, and encountered 37 noncitizens: 23 Hondurans, six Ecuadorans, four Peruvians, two Mexicans, and two El Salvadorans.

HSI is a directorate of ICE and the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel and finance move. HSI’s workforce of over 10,400 employees consists of more than 7,100 special agents assigned to 220 cities throughout the United States, and 80 overseas locations in 53 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.

Updated: 10/05/2021