Locals accused of smuggling illegal aliens into the country

Case expected to be turned over to federal immigration officials 

By FAITH HUFFMAN | News-Telegram News Editor

Sept 11, 2007 - Sulphur Springs-Hopkins County Special Crimes Unit officers detained three local residents accused of smuggling illegal aliens into the country Monday evening.

Two Sulphur Springs men, ages 43 and 75, and a Sulphur Springs woman weredetained at about 6 p.m. Monday in the 500 block of Moore Street by Special Crimes Unit investigators, who caught them with seven people who are alleged to have been smuggled into the country from Mexico.

Although all three are expected to face federal charges for “trafficking of persons,” only one is currently in custody. Ignacio Carmona, 43, was charged with the state offense of unlawful transporting and is also being held on an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer. The other two were released Monday night pending further investigation.

�Carmona seems to be the one who paid the other two to transport the illegals,� Sulphur Springs-Hopkins County Special Crimes Unit Lt. Ron Plaxco said this morning. �From our investigation, we believe he�s the one that set it up. The other two were the drivers.�

Plaxco said the SCU unit, which also includes Sgt. Tony Crouse and Sgt. Harold McClure, had conducted an investigation of the individuals. Carmona is believed to have paid the 43-year-old woman and 75-year-old man to drive to El Paso, where they picked up five men and two women, who were in the country illegally. They then transported the Mexican nationals to Sulphur Springs, having them ride in a U-Haul a portion of the way, according to Plaxco.

SCU officers detained them on Moore Street as they were coming into town, taking both drivers, all seven individuals and Carmona into custody.

The illegal aliens were released to immigration officials, who transported the seven to Dallas, where they will wait to be returned to Mexico, the investigator said.

The three local residents were held for questioning, with the older man and woman being released pending further investigation.

Carmona is being held at the county jail. Federal authorities were being contacted Tuesday morning, and local investigators anticipate the case being turned over to the federal officials.

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