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June 10, 2022El Paso, TX, United StatesHuman Smuggling/Trafficking

HSI El Paso arrests smuggler who allegedly held a noncitizen hostage for 6 weeks

EL PASO, Texas – Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents arrested an alleged human smuggler linked to a hostage case, June 10. The Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Office (DASO) of New Mexico, and the U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) assisted with the case.

Emigdio Gonzalez-Gamboa, 33, was arrested at his Anthony, New Mexico, home and charged with harboring undocumented noncitizens by members of the HSI El Paso Santa Teresa (New Mexico) Human Smuggling Group.

“Human smuggling organizations threaten the security of the United States as well as the lives of the people on whom they prey,” said Frank B. Burrola, special agent in charge for HSI El Paso. “HSI remains steadfast to work with our partners to bring to justice those who conspire to undermine our nation’s immigration laws for their own profit and seek to abuse a vulnerable population.”

On June 1, DASO deputies and HSI special agents responded to a residence on Warthen Road in Anthony, in reference to a possible kidnapping. Deputies had received a call from a female who stated that her sister was being held against her will at that address.

Special agents and deputies rescued the victim, Jane Doe, who was inside a trailer at that address.

According to court documents, the woman said that she was being held against her will by the owner of the residence, known only to her as "Flaco”. The female, a Honduran national, said she was smuggled into the United States, and had been held captive at the trailer for about six weeks. The individuals who held her took away her cellular phone, which she was allowed limited access to but only with supervision of the man holding her captive, she said.

HSI special agents identified the owner of the residence as Gonzalez-Gamboa, who the victim identified as the man she knew as "Flaco" – the man who held her hostage. She also said that Gonzalez-Gamboa made her remove her clothes to take photographs of her.

She further stated that during the time she was held in the trailer, about 12 other undocumented noncitizens were housed there and later transported to various U.S. cities.

The is an HSI El Paso-led investigation.

HSI is 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.