Jose Cardenas-Gonzalez, 40, Cristian Lucero-Gonzalez, 21, Damian Izaguirre-Velasquez, 27, and Luis Galaz-Baldenegro, 36, are accused of one count of conspiracy to transport illegal aliens. The fifth individual, Manuel Pinuelas Salas, 25, is charged with possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance.
According to the criminal complaint affidavit, on the morning of January 28, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents stationed at the Fort Hancock Port of Entry in Hudspeth County became aware of movement at the border approximately 21 miles east of the port of entry.
Upon further investigation, CBP agents discovered five pickup trucks that eventually began traveling into the U.S. on a farm-to-market road. Four of the trucks allegedly had people crammed in the truck beds.
A flurry of law enforcement intercepted the vehicles and took the five men into custody, but not before Izaguirre tried to get away by putting one of the trucks in reverse and crashing into a border patrol vehicle, according to the affidavit.
Izaguirre reportedly invoked the right to request an attorney and lied about his name, but CBP identified him because he had a Mexican Electoral Card with him, along with $500. They also discovered he had previously been deported multiple times.
The suspects are said to have confessed to transporting illegal immigrants for varying amounts of compensation and are being charged in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas.
The illegal drugs — over 450 pounds of marijuana and over 157 pounds of methamphetamine — have a street value of about $5.4 million, according to a press statement by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).
The DOJ said that Pinuelas could be ordered to prison for 10 years, while the other four men could be given up to 20-year sentences.
A copy of the criminal complaint affidavit can be found below.
Disclosure: Unlike almost every other media outlet, The Texan is not beholden to any special interests, does not apply for any type of state or federal funding, and relies exclusively on its readers for financial support. If you’d like to become one of the people we’re financially accountable to, click here to subscribe.
Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."