Four Indicted In Money Laundering Scheme To Fund Human Smuggling Operation

 Authored by Matt McGregor  via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Several defendants, previously convicted of human smuggling, have been issued a superseding indictment for a money laundering scheme to fund a human smuggling operation in Texas amid a federal investigation.

Eighty-one migrants hidden in back of tractor trailer, 2022. (Courtesy of Department of Justice).

The indictment alleges the four defendants conspired to create a network of straw men and bank accounts under the guise of payments for construction work to transport illegal aliens.

The Southern District of Texas (SDT) has issued a superseding indictment charging 32-year-old Erminia Serrano Piedra, of Elgin, Texas; 40-year-old Oscar Angel Monroy Alcibar, also of Elgin; 34-year-old Pedro Hairo Abrigo, of Killeen, Texas; and 38-year-old Juan Diego Martinez-Rodriguez, of Dale, Texas, with conspiracy to launder money.

“As alleged in the superseding indictment, the defendants conspired to engage in financial transactions designed to conceal the nature, location, source, ownership, and control of ill-gotten proceeds of illicit human smuggling and the unlawful harboring and transportation of undocumented aliens,” the press release stated.

The superseding indictment permitted the criminal forfeiture of three properties estimated at $2.275 million, $515,000, and $344,000, with money judgments of up to $2,945.027.

'Boss Lady'

Piedra, aka “Boss Lady,” is alleged to be the leader of the human smuggling operation comprised of 14 defendants indicted in September 2022.

According to the indictment, the human smuggling organization used drivers to pick up migrants near the U.S.-Mexico border and transport them into the interior of the United States, often harboring them at ‘stash houses’ along the way in locations such as Laredo and Austin, Texas,” the press release stated.

“Drivers for the human smuggling organization allegedly hid migrants in suitcases placed in pickup trucks and crammed migrants in the back of tractor-trailers, covered beds of pickup trucks, repurposed water tankers, and wooden crates strapped to flatbed trailers. These methods allegedly placed the migrants’ lives in danger, because they were frequently held in confined spaces with little ventilation, which became overheated, and they were driven at high speeds with no vehicle safety devices.”

Migrants are hidden in wooden crates to be transported in this 2022 image. (Courtesy of Department of Justice)

A driver for the organization could be paid up to $2,500 for each migrant transported.

Sadly, this case is an example of what we see in our district, too many times, especially in our border communities,” said U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery for the SDT.

“Our Laredo office works continuously with our valued partners to bring to justice those who allegedly put profits ahead of everything else. No amount of money should be a substitute for human life.”

Migrants trapped inside the bed cover of a pickup truck in this 2022 image. (Courtesy of Department of Justice)


Since January 2021, border patrol agents have estimated over 1.7 million immigrants have crossed the border, avoiding detection because of their criminal history.

These “gotaways” infiltrate local Texas communities.

“When I took office, this all started,” Brent Smith, Kinney County Attorney, told Epoch TV in the documentary “Gotaways: The Hidden Border Crisis.”

“We started having several reports of illegal aliens coming through properties damaging fences, breaking into houses, even assaulting landowners,” Mr. Smith said.

Mr. Smith recalled an elderly woman who reported escaping an illegal alien’s assault on her ATV and a mother and a child who were inside their house when illegals were trying to break in.

“And at that point, we were hoping the federal government was going to step in and do something,” Mr. Smith said. “But they didn’t.”

A trail camera captures illegal aliens walking on a rancher's property at night in Kinney County, Texas, in September 2022. (Courtesy of a rancher)

Christopher Roswell, a hunting ranch property owner in Maverick County, was reported in the documentary to have testified before the Texas Senate, stating that what he’s witnessed over the last two years “has been completely insane.”

We’ve been cussed at, threatened, had rocks and sticks thrown at us, our dogs have been beaten on multiple occasions by illegals,” Mr. Roswell said. “My wife, my kids, our employees, and myself wear a pistol everywhere we go on the ranch.”

Property owners and ranch managers such as Cole Hill of Kinney County report continued harassment.

“It’s a very scary situation knowing that we’re this far out,” Mr. Hill said.

“We shouldn’t have any trespassers on our property; we are way out in the middle of nowhere. It took border patrol an hour and seven minutes to get here. We’ve been cast to the wolves to deal with this problem because nobody else wants it.”

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