EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – A traffic stop by Texas Department of Public Safety troopers has led to the discovery of a migrant stash house in Northeast El Paso.
DPS stopped the vehicle for a traffic violation last week and requested the assistance of the U.S. Border Patrol on suspicion the driver was transporting unauthorized non-citizens, court records show. A Border Patrol agent interviewed the driver, who allegedly admitted to having three undocumented migrants in the vehicle. The agent received permission to search the driver’s cellphone and found a message thread referring to a mobile home on the 10300 block of Grouse Road.
Border agents later set up surveillance near the address and noticed what appeared to be a restroom light constantly turning on and off, court records show. The agents knocked on the trailer door and saw a man trying to sneak out the rear. They detained the man, identified as Uriel Pizana Garcia, of Mexico, and questioned a woman who finally answered the door.
The woman, later identified as Martha Gomez Griego, told Border Patrol she was renting the mobile home and gave consent for a search, court records show. The agents found 10 unauthorized migrants in a locked room and several bags of clothing. Gomez allegedly told agents Pizana, whom she described as her roommate, had asked permission to throw a party and she did not know the people inside. She said the bags contained clothing her daughter had outgrown.
Pizana, however, told investigators he entered the country illegally on Oct. 16 and later was transported by smugglers to the trailer on Grouse Road. He said he was told to look after and feed newly arrived unauthorized migrants in exchange for a $300 discount on his smuggling fee for every one he took care of, court records show.
In the two days that Pizana was at the trailer, a total of 35 migrants came and went, he allegedly told investigators.
As border agents took away the migrants for processing, some started asking for their cellphones, which they said Gomez took away upon arrival to the trailer. According to the Oct. 25 filing in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, several mobile phones and ledgers were found in Gomez’s bedroom, and the clothes in the bags were mostly adult sizes. Further, a search of the woman’s cellphone revealed photos of individuals and their Mexican identification cards.
Gomez allegedly claimed Pizana placed the cellphones in her bedroom.
Federal officials arrested and charged Gomez and Pizana with conspiracy to harbor and transport illegal aliens.