2 Fort Hood soldiers charged with attempting to smuggle undocumented immigrants into Texas
FORT HOOD, Texas — Two Fort Hood active-duty soldiers have been charged with attempting to smuggle two undocumented Mexican citizens into Texas and could face up to 10 years in federal prison, according to the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas.
Emmanuel Oppongagyare and Ralph Gregory Saint-Joie were both wearing their full US Army OCP uniforms when they approached the Hebbronville Border Patrol Checkpoint in a sedan on June 13, according to a criminal complaint by the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas.
“At approximately 12:45 a.m., a black sedan approached the checkpoint at a high rate of speed before coming to an abrupt stop to be inspected by the BPA on duty,” read the complaint.
The border patrol agent asked Oppongagyare, who was driving the vehicle, to lower the loud radio volume and proceeded to conduct the inspection. When asked where he was traveling to, Oppongagyare told the agent he was traveling to San Antonio from Zapata, Texas.
“The BPA questioned Oppongagyare as to his unusual route of travel to which Oppongagyare stated his Global Positioning System (GPS) took him through this route,” read the complaint. “In the BPA’s past experience, the GPS direction is a common explanation used by smugglers to justify their unusual route of travel to San Antonio, Texas.”
The agent then referred the vehicle for further investigation. As agents opened the trunk, they discovered two people who were both citizens of Mexico.
“At this time, all subjects were placed under arrest and taken to the Hebbronville Border Patrol Station,” read the complaint.
In his statement, Oppongagyare stated he was approached by someone he met through Saint-Joie to pick up undocumented immigrants in McAllen, Texas, and take them to San Antonio. He was also paid $100, according to the complaint.
“Individual 1 promised to pay Oppongagyare and Saint-Joie an undetermined amount of money when they arrived in San Antonio, Texas, specifically instructed they both wear their United States Army issued uniforms to avoid questioning by BPAs,” read the complaint.
Saint-Joie, who was a passenger in the car, chose to invoke his right to remain silent, according to the complaint.
CNN has reached out to the attorneys for Oppongagyare and Saint-Joie for further comment.
The arrest comes as the U.S. cracks down on the human smuggling of migrants at the US-Mexico border after launching operations to disrupt criminal networks. In May, border authorities encountered around 180,000 migrants on the southwest border, according to one of the officials, putting the US on track to surpass 2019 crisis numbers with four months left in the fiscal year.
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