Arrests and indictments Tuesday south of Elgin were part of a regional effort to take down human traffickers.
On Sept. 13, the U.S. Department of Justice, along with its partners, conducted an operation that "disrupted and dismantled a prolific human smuggling operation in Texas and across the southern United States," said the DOJ in a statement.
Erminia Serrano Piedra aka Irma, and Boss Lady, 31, allegedly led the human smuggling operation. Other defendants include Kevin Daniel Nuber, aka "Captain," 41; Laura Nuber, aka "Barbie," 40; Lloyd Bexley, 51; Jeremy Dickens, 45; Katie Ann Garcia, aka "Guera," 39; Oliveria Piedra-Campuzana, 53; and Pedro Hairo Abrigo, 33. All were arrested in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama pursuant to charges previously filed in the Southern District of Texas (SDTX).
The operation, a part of Joint Task Force Alpha (JTFA), included the arrest of the eight alleged human smugglers, whose indictment were unsealed Tuesday.
“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,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “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 indictment also notices the criminal forfeiture of three properties as well as money judgments amounting to $2,299,152.40. They include two properties with Elgin addresses, south of the city limits in the 600 blocks of S.H. 95 and Old Sayers Road, and a third property in the 100 block of Laurel Oaks in Bastrop.
Bastrop County Sheriff's Office was named as one of the agencies providing significant assistance.
This is a developing story. More details will be in the Sept. 21 edition of the Elgin Courier.