National Security

Alleged Crime Family Orchestrated Multi-State Illegal Immigrant Smuggling Ring, Feds Say

(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

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Jennie Taer Investigative Reporter
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Several members of a family allegedly coordinated a scheme to smuggle illegal immigrants across the southern border and into the U.S. interior, according to Border Report.

Authorities arrested six members of the Lopez family, while four others remain on the run, according to Border Report. . The group allegedly operated in New Mexico, Arizona, California and Virginia, Jorge H. Uribarri, assistant special agent with Homeland Security Investigations in El Paso, said, according to Border Report. (RELATED: Border Officials Find Illegal Migrants Packed Into Fake FedEx Vans)

Ronaldo Galindo Lopez Escobar, a.k.a. “Tio Roni” (Uncle Ron) and Rosa Adriana Lopez Escobar, a.k.a. “Tia Rosa” (Auntie Rosa) are charged for allegedly overseeing the smuggling operation, which included foot guides, drivers and caregivers, according to Border Report.

(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

“This is a two-year investigation. It starts with Border Patrol apprehensions and links several events through intelligence work. It is then that (criminal) cells are identified and that is how we get to this point,” Uribarri said.

Uncle Roni is accused of orchestrating the smuggling of individuals from Central America into the U.S., according to Border Report. Lopez Chilel, Lopez Perez, Vanegas Portillo, Chilel Ramirez, Chavez Hernandez and Rolando Cortez allegedly transported the illegal immigrants into stash houses and later to their final destinations.

Deysi Marisela Lopez Ambrosio and Mildred Yanira Lopez Ambrosio allegedly transferred the smuggling fees back to the family, according to Border Report.

“It has to do with trust and secrecy. It gives confidence that secrecy will be maintained,” Uribarri said.

Authorities discovered the alleged human smuggling ring after a caravan of vehicles failed to stop for Border Patrol in October 2021, according to Border Report.

Illegal immigration has surged in recent years at the U.S.-Mexico border, according to federal statistics. Border Patrol encounters of illegal migrants at the southern border jumped from roughly 400,000 in fiscal year 2020 to more than 2.2 million in fiscal year 2022.

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