Salvadoran Asylum Seekers Arrested on Human Smuggling Charges

Wednesday, March 6, 2019
By Paul Martin

6 Mar 2019

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California filed charges against two Salvadoran asylum seekers for allegedly attempting to smuggle two other migrants past an immigration checkpoint. Border Patrol agents arrested the Salvadoran migrants at the State Route 94 station located about seven miles from the Mexican border.

Court documents reveal that the driver, Edy Giovanni Fuentes-Alvarado, and his wife, Kenia Yamileth Gomez-Caballero, both Salvadoran nationals, and an unidentified passenger approached the immigration checkpoint on California State Route 94 about seven miles north of the Mexican border and eight miles east of the Otay Mesa Port of Entry. During an inspection, the San Diego Sector Border Patrol agents learned the married couple are citizens of El Salvador who entered the U.S. through the San Ysidro Port of Entry. The couple told the agents they filed an asylum request that is currently pending.

Border Patrol agents directed the driver of the Nissan Armada to a secondary inspection station, where colleagues would attempt to confirm their lawful presence in the U.S., court records continued. Agents said a third person in the SUV is not charged in the matter.

During the interview, Fuentes, Gomez, and the unidentified third passenger said they came to pick up Pedro Arturo Santos-Moran — a person they knew to be a foreign national with no legal reason to be present in the U.S. They allegedly told the agents they were waiting for a phone call from Santos to pick him up. The agent obtained permission to search Fuentes’ cell phone and found text messages that appeared to be coordinating transportation and a GPS location. Fuentes identified Santos as a cousin.

The Border Patrol agent dispatched others to the location to find Santos. The agents were unsuccessful in the initial search. At that time, the agents placed Fuentes and Gomez under arrest.

The arresting agent stated that Fuentes’ cell phone continued to receive updated GPS locations for Santos. The agent relayed that information to a Border Patrol K-9 unit who conducted another search and later found Santos and another migrant, Isis Jeanette Bucca-Rivera. The agents identified the two migrants as Salvadoran nationals and confirmed they did not have immigration documents.

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