EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Two Dallas residents are facing alien smuggling charges for allegedly using their son’s and their granddaughter’s birth certificates to bring two unauthorized Mexican nationals into the United States.
Jorge and Maria de Jesus Mendez this week attempted to drive from Mexico to the U.S. over the Colombia Solidarity Bridge in Laredo, Texas, with two passengers in the back seat. The woman identified herself as an American citizen and her husband as a legal permanent resident, both from Dallas.
According to a federal court filing, Maria de Jesus Mendez handed a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer two Texas birth certificates on behalf of whom she said was her son and her granddaughter. The officer turned to 13-year-old Jorge Mendez III to ask routine questions in English, which he did not appear to understand. He then turned to the younger female child only identified in documents as A.V., asked her name and allegedly got an answer that did not match the documents.
The officer sent the vehicle and its occupants to a secondary inspection area, where Jorge Mendez III was asked questions about his family that he could not answer. The 13-year-old “child” allegedly admitted to the officer his name was Otoniel Flores-Antonio, that he was 21, and that he was born in Tejupilco, Mexico, according to a federal criminal complaint filed in connection to the case on Wednesday.
The fake child allegedly told U.S. authorities that his brother paid 100,000 pesos ($5,476) to the Texas couple to smuggle him into the United States and would pay a similar amount later. The girl in the vehicle, whose age was not specified, gave officers contact information for her real mother, who later confirmed to officers that the girl was a Mexican national, court records show.
The criminal complaint quotes Jorge Mendez as later telling investigators, “I know what this is about. I want to take the blame for both of us. Let my wife go.”
Maria de Lourdes Mendez allegedly told investigators she and her husband traveled to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, to drop off her mother-in-law. He only informed her the previous night of his plans to use the birth certificates to smuggle unauthorized non-citizens into the United States, the complaint alleges.
The husband and the wife have been charged in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. An immigration hold has been placed on the male defendant, court records show. That typically means a person is facing possible removal from the United States once separate criminal procedures run their course.