SAN ANTONIO - Two men and a woman are facing federal charges after officials say U.S. Department of Homeland Security agents rescued a 9-year-old boy from a human trafficker in San Antonio.
Officials said the boy was with 65-year-old Manuel Monsivais, of San Antonio, when he was rescued during the early morning hours of July 31 at an H-E-B parking lot on the South Side.
Monsivais; Elida Kassandra Moreno, 26; and Nery Uriostegui Dominguez, 26, are each facing up to 10 years in prison and a maximum $250,000 fine for their roles in a human trafficking scheme.
"Moreno also faces up to ten years in federal prison for bringing an illegal alien into the U.S. for-profit and up to five years in federal prison for making a false statement to a federal official upon conviction," the U.S. District Attorney's Office said in a news release Wednesday.
Officials did not say whether the boy is back home in Mexico or if he remains in San Antonio.
Moreno was nearly halfway to Piedras Negras, Mexico, from San Antonio when she was pulled over by deputies in Batesville, Texas, and was taken into custody to be questioned by agents with Homeland Security Investigations, according to a federal complaint.
The human trafficking scheme began when Moreno – an American citizen living in Piedras Negras – was approached by a friend's neighbor to take the boy to his family in San Antonio, the complaint said.
In exchange for $1,700, Moreno told HSI agents that she used her own son's birth certificate to take him across the border through Eagle Pass, where she later rented a motel room.
The next day, Moreno and the boy got into a shuttle van that traveled through a U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint and stopped at its final destination in San Antonio, the complaint said.
Moreno said she and the boy stayed at a downtown motel near Santa Rosa Hospital and later met up with Dominguez – a Mexican national – at Milam Park, which is across the street from the hospital, according to the complaint.
Despite being told to give the boy to Dominguez and collect $2,500 from Dominguez, Moreno said she refused and that's when she and Dominguez began fighting, the complaint said.
Moreno told agents she was able to get away and eventually meet up with Monsivais, her neighbor's father, at a Love's Travel Stop on the South Side to give him the boy.
After being arrested at the H-E-B, Monsivais told HSI agents he was "doing a favor for his daughter who was in Mexico."
While Monsivais claimed he was not getting paid for keeping the boy, officials said HSI agents found several "money service business receipts in his vehicle."
"This continuing investigation is being conducted by HSI together with the San Antonio Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joshua Banister is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government," the U.S. District Attorney's Office said.
In June 2018, Fort Worth police arrested Moreno on suspicion of assault. Additional information regarding that arrest was not made available by police.
Officials did not release a mugshot of Monsivais.
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