8 indicted in ‘enormous’ human smuggling network that operated in Texas, Southern US, feds say

Migrants were transported in ‘deplorable conditions,’ held in stash houses in Laredo, Austin

FILE - A U.S. Border Patrol airboat with two agents aboard patrols the Rio Grande River, looking west through downtown Laredo. Nuevo Laredo, Mexico is on the left. (Robert Daemmrich Photography Inc, Photo by Robert Daemmrich Photography Inc/Corbis via Getty Images)

SAN ANTONIO – Eight people have been indicted in an “enormous” human smuggling network that operated in Texas and other states in the Southern U.S., according to federal authorities.

The Department of Justice announced Tuesday that the eight suspects coordinated the transportation of the migrants from the U.S.-Mexico border to other parts of the country.

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The suspects were identified as Erminia “Boss Lady” Serrano Piedra, 31; Kevin “Captain” Daniel Nuber, 41; Laura “Barbie” Nuber, 40; Lloyd Bexley, 51; Jeremy Dickens, 45; Katie Ann Garcia aka Guera, 39; Oliveria Piedra-Campuzana, 53; and Pedro Hairo Abrigo, 33.

Authorities said Piedra led the operation.

The migrants, who were from Mexico, Guatemala and Colombia, were moved in “deplorable conditions” after they paid drivers as much as $2,500 for their transport, according to a news release.

They were transported by hiding in suitcases, tractor-trailers, beds of pickup trucks, or repurposed water tankers or wooden crates, the release states. They were frequently held in places with little ventilation or temperature control.

Federal authorities said they were often held at stash houses en route to their destinations, such as in Laredo or Austin.

“Over a year ago, we launched Joint Task Force Alpha to strengthen our efforts across government to dismantle the most dangerous human smuggling and trafficking networks,” Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in the release. “The charges announced today are just the latest example of these efforts’ success. The Justice Department will continue to bring our full resources to bear to combat the human smuggling and trafficking groups that endanger our communities, abuse and exploit migrants, and threaten our national security.”

The suspects were arrested in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

Authorities said the indictment includes the forfeiture of three properties and money judgments amounting to nearly $2.3 million.

“This human smuggling organization operated on an enormous scale, placing a high value on financial profit, while putting migrants’ lives at great risk,” Kenneth A. Polite, Jr., the assistant attorney general of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, said in the release. “JTFA will continue to use all means necessary to pursue and dismantle criminal smuggling networks and protect the vulnerable populations they exploit.”

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About the Author

Rebecca Salinas is an award-winning digital journalist who joined KSAT in 2019. She reports on a variety of topics for KSAT 12 News.

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