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  • KOIN 6 News

    Feds arrest 2 for alleged ‘people smuggling’ into U.S. by freight train

    By Jenna Deml,

    21 days ago

    PORTLAND, Ore. ( KOIN ) — Two men were arrested Thursday and federally charged for their alleged involvement in “an extremely dangerous smuggling scheme,” which brought people into the U.S. illegally by freight train, U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman announced Friday.

    Authorities say the arrests are the result of an investigation started in late 2022 by Homeland Security Investigation’s Border Security Enforcement Team.

    During that time, investigators reportedly found a phone number they later linked to 45-year-old Jesus Ortiz-Plata, which kept coming up as the number any non-citizens were supposed to contact. Officials then received court permission to trace his cell phone.

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    Police then reportedly followed Ortiz-Plata as he traveled from Oregon to an apartment in Everett, Washington. He left the apartment with three men, who were later found to be non-citizens. Police then took all four men into custody.

    Officials say two of the men had crossed the border in a freight train car. Another identified a man who lived in the apartment, 35-year-old Juan Pablo Cuellar Medina, as the man who had picked him up after he crossed into the United States. Medina was arrested for his involvement as a result.

    “These defendants have allegedly been linked to an extremely dangerous smuggling scheme where people are loaded into freight cars on trains traveling from Canada into the U.S.,” said U.S. Attorney Gorman. “Being locked in a freight train car is dangerous – there is no control over the heat, cold, or ventilation, and people can be injured or killed by shifting freight.”

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    Two men connected to a northern border people smuggling scheme made their initial appearances in U.S. District Court in Seattle today, announced U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman.

    Conspiracy to commit illegal transportation of a non-citizen for private financial gain is punishable by up to ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

    The case is being investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, the Border Security Enforcement Team, U.S. Border Patrol, and Border Patrol Air and Marine Group.

    Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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