Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Guardsmen on border accused of running smuggling ring

From the Fort Worth online fishwrap:
Three National Guardsmen assigned to the Texas-Mexico border were accused of running an immigrant smuggling ring after 24 immigrants were found inside a van that one of them was driving, a U.S. attorney said Monday.

The three, arrested late Thursday and Friday, were arraigned Monday on a federal charge of conspiring to transport illegal immigrants.

Pfc. Jose Rodrigo Torres, 26, and Sgt. Julio Cesar Pacheco, 25, both of Laredo, and Sgt. Clarence Hodge Jr., 36, of Fort Worth, were arrested near Laredo.

A Border Patrol agent found 24 illegal immigrants inside a van Torres was driving along Interstate 35 near Cotulla, Texas, about 68 miles north of the border, prosecutors said. Torres was in uniform at the time of his arrest Thursday.

The van was leased by the National Guard, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Prosecutors accused Hodge of helping Torres pass through a Border Patrol checkpoint on the highway by making it look like the two were conducting Guard business.

Pacheco was accused of recruiting soldiers to transport the migrants for $1,000 to $3,500 a trip. He and Hodge were arrested Friday.

All three soldiers are assigned to border duties as part of Operation Jumpstart, President Bush's initiative to place Guard troops at the border to help local and federal authorities with immigration enforcement. All the soldiers are volunteers.

I don't see what the fuss is all about. I mean, they were just following Dubya's lead in allowing criminal aliens to come into the country and getting onto the "path to citizenship", right?