Soldiers charged with human trafficking

Two US soldiers recently arrested for attempting to smuggle two Mexican citizens have been charged in federal court in Laredo.

On June 29, a grand jury indicted Emmanuel Oppongagyare and Ralph Gregory Saint-Joie with one count of conspiracy to transport an undocumented migrant to the United States and two counts of transporting and attempting to transport a migrant. undocumented in the United States.

Each count carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison followed by three years of supervised release. The two were indicted on video July 8 in front of US investigating judge Christopher dos Santos.

Homeland Security Investigations and the US Border Patrol are investigating the case. US Assistant Prosecutor Brian Bajew is pursuing the case.

Oppongagyare and Saint-Joie arrived at the Hebronville checkpoint in a black sedan on June 13. Both wore full US Army uniforms. The driver, Oppongagyare, said he was traveling to San Antonio from Zapata. Asked about the unusual travel route, Oppongagyare allegedly claimed that his GPS had led him on this route.

Oppongagyare and Saint-Joie were referred to secondary inspection. Officers patrolled Oppongagyare and Saint-Joie, who communicated using low voices and hand signals. The two avoided eye contact with officers, according to court documents.

Oppongagyare authorized officers to search the trunk of the sedan. Officers opened the safe and discovered two Mexican citizens illegally present in the country. Saint-Joie, an American citizen, has chosen to remain silent. But Oppongagyare, who has dual Ghanaian and American nationality, reportedly agreed to make a statement after the arrest.

Oppongagyare said he was approached by (an) individual he met via St. Joie to pick up undocumented aliens in McAllen, Texas and take them to San Antonio, Texas, and that he had received $ 100, “states the affidavit.

This individual promised to pay Oppongagyare and Saint-Joie once they arrived in San Antonio. The individual specifically requested that they both wear their US Army uniforms to avoid being questioned by the border patrol.

Oppongagyare and Saint-Joie traveled from Killeen, TX to McAllen, TX on June 12 and received instructions from the individual to meet another person in a sport utility vehicle. There, the person dropped off the two migrants.

“Oppongagyare said that Saint-Joie asked (the migrants) to get into the trunk of their sedan and started to drive to San Antonio, Texas, maintaining communication with (the first individual),” the affidavit.

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