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  • Writer's pictureLucas Nava

Burrola: "Human smuggling is a multi-billion-dollar enterprise"

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Homeland Security Investigations special agents and the Albuquerque Police Department rescued three undocumented Guatemalan nationals who were being held for ransom on Oct. 4.

The three noncitizens, a mother, and her daughters were allegedly being held for ransom on Palomas Drive, Albuquerque, according to a Nov. 8 news release. Court documents report a relative in Arizona paid $30,000 to have her sister and nieces smuggled into the country, but the smugglers reportedly demanded an additional $6,000.

“What started as a joint effort by HSI and the Albuquerque Police Department to rescue kidnapping victims, revealed not just the illicit movement of people, but a criminal network involved in extortion,” HSI El Paso Special Agent in Charge Francisco B. Burrola said in the release. “Human smuggling is a multi-billion-dollar enterprise, and the individuals being smuggled are viewed as cargo by the transnational criminal organizations, whose nefarious activities demonstrate a total disregard for both our laws and for human life.”

Marcelo Alonso-Almaraz, 32, and Eloisa Almaraz-Vasquez, 35, both undocumented Mexican nationals, have been charged with human smuggling and hostage-taking, the release reported. Alonso-Almaraz was also charged with possession of a firearm.

Both made their initial appearances in federal court on Oct. 4, and they reappeared on Nov. 8 for a preliminary and detention hearing, where they were both ordered to be held without bond until the end of their legal proceedings, according to the release.

Throughout the course of the investigation, special agents reportedly encountered 58 undocumented noncitizens, the release reported. Of those, 40 were Mexican nationals, 14 were from Guatemala and four were from Ecuador.

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