Soldiers charged with alien smuggling
LAREDO, TS (STL.News) Two Fort Hood active duty soldiers are set to make appearances in federal court today on allegations they attempted to smuggle two undocumented Mexican citizens to San Antonio, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.
Emmanuel Oppongagyare, 20, and Ralph Gregory Saint-Joie, 18, are set to make their initial appearances before U.S. Magistrate Judge Diana Song Quiroga at 1:30 p.m. today.
Both men are soldiers in the U.S. Army, according to the criminal complaint.
According to the charges, Oppongagyare approached the Hebbronville Border Patrol (BP) Checkpoint driving a sedan on the morning of June 13. Saint-Joie was allegedly riding as passenger. Both men were wearing their uniforms, according to the complaint. During primary inspection, Oppongagyare allegedly told authorities they were traveling from Zapata to San Antonio.
Law enforcement referred them to secondary inspection, where they discovered two undocumented Mexican citizens in the trunk of the vehicle, according to the charges.
The complaint alleges they expected to receive an undetermined amount of money to pick up the individuals in McAllen and transport them to San Antonio. They were allegedly told to wear their U.S. Army uniforms in order to avoid questioning from authorities.
If convicted, Oppongagyare and Saint-Joie face up to 10 years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine.
BP and Homeland Security Investigations are conducting the investigation.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Bajew is prosecuting the case.
A criminal complaint is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.