Five suspects charged with attempting to smuggle 77 people, drugs into Hudspeth County

Federal agents filed a criminal complaint against five illegal immigrants from Mexico on Monday for allegedly attempting to smuggle 77 other illegal immigrants into Texas with hundreds of pounds of marijuana and methamphetamine.

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.

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