Feds dismantle Texas human trafficking ring smuggling migrants in crates
Group’s leader, the Boss Lady, and members La Barbie and La Guera among those charged
HOUSTON, Texas (KWTX) - Erminia Serrano Piedra, 31, also known as Irma and The Boss Lady, alleged to be the alleged leader of a human trafficking network smuggling undocumented immigrants into the U.S. in deplorable conditions, was among the eight people arrested by federal agents on Sept. 13, 2022.
The other co-defendants arrested include Kevin Daniel Nuber, 41, a.k.a. The Captain; Laura Nuber, 40, a.k.a La Barbie; Lloyd Bexley, 51; Jeremy Dickens, 45; Katie Ann Garcia, 39, a.k.a. La Guera; Oliveria Piedra-Campuzana, 53; and Pedro Hairo Abrigo, 33. The alleged human traffickers were arrested in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.
According to a U.S. Department of Justice indictment unsealed in the Southern District of Texas, the alleged human smugglers “facilitated the unlawful transportation and movement of migrants within the United States in deplorable conditions for profit.”
The victims are citizens of Mexico, Guatemala and Colombia. The migrants or their families allegedly paid members of the human smuggling organization to help them travel illegally to and within the United States.
According to the indictment, the smugglers used drivers to pick up migrants near the U.S.-Mexico border and transport them further into the interior of the United States.
They often harbored the migrants at stash houses along the way in cities like Laredo and Austin.
Drivers used various methods to transport migrants, including hiding them in suitcases placed in pickup trucks and cramming migrants in the back of tractor-trailers, covered beds of pickup trucks, repurposed water tankers or wooden crates strapped to flatbed trailers, the indictment states.
The methods used to transport migrants “placed their lives in danger as they were frequently held in contained spaces with little ventilation, no temperature control and in conditions that placed them at great risk,” federal prosecutors said.
Drivers for the organization were allegedly paid as much as $2,500 for each migrant they unlawfully transported.
The indictment also notices the criminal forfeiture of three properties as well as money judgments amounting to nearly $2.3 million.
“Human smugglers are criminals who do not care about human life,” said U.S. Customs and Border Protection Deputy Commissioner Troy Miller.
“They lie to make money, convincing vulnerable migrants to hand over what is often their life savings in exchange for empty promises to get to the United States. Smugglers regularly abandon migrants in the desert or mountains with no food or water, leaving them for dead.”
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