Fort Hood soldier accused of smuggling migrants from Mexico

Fort Hood soldier, Pennsylvania National Guardsman were attempting to take migrants to San Antonio

FILE: A U.S. Customs and Border Protection patch. (Photo by Alex Edelman/Getty Images) (Alex Edelman, 2019 Getty Images)

LAREDO, Texas – A Fort Hood soldier and a Pennsylvania National Guardsman stationed at the Central Texas installation have been charged with smuggling two men into Texas from Mexico.

Court records show Fort Hood soldier Ralph Gregory Saint-Joie, 18, and guardsman Emmanuel Oppongagyare, 20, made initial appearances before a federal magistrate Tuesday in Laredo. Both were held in custody under $75,000 bonds pending detention hearings next Tuesday.

A car Oppongagyaye was driving with Saint-Joie as a passenger, both in Army uniforms, approached a Border Patrol checkpoint in Hebbronville, about 150 miles (241.40 kilometers) south of San Antonio.

A criminal complaint says that as agents performed an initial inspection, Oppongagyaye told them he and Saint-Joie were driving to San Antonio from the border town of Zapata, Texas.

When the car was referred for a secondary inspection, two Mexican nationals were found in its trunk, according to the complaint. Oppongagye told the agent that a man he met through Saint-Joie paid him $100 and promised an undetermined amount of money to pick up a man and a woman in McAllen and drive them to San Antonio.

Messages to the defendants’ court-appointed attorneys were not immediately returned. The migrants were being held as material witnesses.

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