Homeland Security Investigations along with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's agents arrested 18 human traffickers, 117 illegal immigrants, seized cash, vehicles and more than 1,000 lbs. of marijuana last month in a joint effort.
Special agents assigned to El Paso's human smuggling group for HSI and Border Patrol agents, worked together to identify, locate and arrest smugglers operating trafficking organizations in southern New Mexico and the El Paso area.
Elias Serrano, 42, a US citizen was arrested and charged with "smuggling illegal immigrants."
Agents say Serrano had prior convictions for aggravated stalking, kidnapping, possessing a deadly weapon and possessing marijuana with intent to distribute.
Jesus Briseno, 25, another US citizen was also arrested. He had prior convictions for escape from custody, possessing marijuana, assault/causing injury to a family member, and driving while intoxicated.
"We remain steadfast in our commitment to vigorously pursue members of transnational criminal networks that exploit and endanger people they smuggle into our country," said Jack P. Staton, special agent in charge of HSI El Paso. "These smugglers are driven by human greed and heartlessness. HSI will continue to work with our law enforcement partners, such as Border Patrol, to maintain the integrity of our border and nation's immigration laws."
Additionally, agents arrested 117 people in the country illegally.
Among them was a 34-year-old Guatemalan with an outstanding warrant out of Florida for driving under the influence, and also charged with illegally re-entering the U.S. after deportation.
A 30-year-old Mexican with ties to a Mexican drug cartel was arrested for fraud and misuse of visas.
Plus a 32-year-old Mexican with convictions for child endangerment and driving while intoxicated, was arrested for illegally re-entering the U.S. after deportation.
The three month long investigation also resulted in the arrest of illegal immigrants in three area stash houses from the following countries: Mexico (93), Guatemala (12), Honduras (6), Brazil (3), El Salvador (2) and Peru (1).
Agents also seized nine vehicles, three tractor-trailers and $20,000 in U.S and Mexican currency.
"This is a great example of the dedication and cooperation amongst area law enforcement agencies working towards the shared goals of securing our borders, protecting our local communities and our nation," said Deputy Chief Patrol Agent Chris T. Clem, U.S. Border Patrol-El Paso Sector.