Tijuana man, three adult children operate human smuggling scheme for decades, US Attorney's says

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Posted at 6:16 PM, May 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-17 21:16:43-04

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A Tijuana man and his three adult children were indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly smuggling hundreds of illegal immigrants across the border for profit, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced Friday.

Luis Antonio Mendez-Brahan, 55, remains at large, but his children, Christopher Mendez, 28, and Wendy Monserrath Mendez, 24, both of Wasco in Kern County; and Nancy Jacqueline Suarez, 31, of Madera, were arrested at their homes on Thursday, prosecutors said.

Mendez-Brahan is accused of leading the smuggling scheme for nearly a decade, which allegedly operated near the Tecate Port of Entry and "used an ever-changing cadre of spotters, guides and drivers" to move "hundreds of illegal aliens into the United States."

Mendez-Brahan is accused of charging between $7,000 and $8,500 for each person smuggled into the U.S., while his children allegedly used family members in both countries to move the money. Border Patrol investigators tracked financial transactions between Mendez-Brahan's children in the U.S. to money service businesses in Tijuana, according to prosecutors.

The four family members are each charged with conspiracy to bring in illegal aliens for financial gain, to transport illegal aliens and to conduct financial transactions with proceeds of specified unlawful activity. Mendez- Brahan is additionally charged with five counts of bringing in aliens for financial gain.

His three children made their first appearances in San Diego federal court on Friday.