EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – A federal grand jury has charged the driver of a tractor-trailer allegedly caught transporting a dozen unauthorized migrants from El Paso to Dallas on Interstate 10 East at speeds of up to 95 miles per hour.
Cesar Bejarano is facing charges of conspiracy to transport unauthorized non-citizens and committing a federal offense for financial gain. The charges leveled against Bejarano on Wednesday stem from Homeland Security Investigations surveillance conducted on July 11 in the El Paso area and a U.S. Border Patrol vehicle stop the following day on I-10, several miles east of Van Horn, Texas.
HSI agents received information about a possible human smuggling scheme and watched several vehicles approach a parked black semi with no license plates, court records show. The vehicles came and left, which the agents later stated is consistent with smugglers dropping migrants off for transportation. As more vehicles came, the agents noticed the truck now had license plates.
The agents sent a be-on-the-lookout (BOLO) advisory as the truck headed east on Interstate 10. All traffic leaving the vicinity of the Mexican border must pass through Border Patrol checkpoints. The semi, however, wasn’t spotted until 5:45 a.m. on July 12 along mile marker 153, well east of the Sierra Blanca, Texas, Border Patrol checkpoint, court records show.
Border agents followed the trailer at speeds of 93 to 95 miles an hour for 4 miles and noticed the driver weaving in an out of traffic, records show. The driver slowed down and eventually stopped at mile marker 159.
The agents said Bejarano, the driver, stated he was a U.S. citizen and consented to a search of his vehicle, court records show. The agents allegedly found 12 foreign nationals in the sleeping area of the semi who admitted to being in the country illegally.
The unauthorized non-citizens were taken to the Border Patrol station in Van Horn, and Bejarano consented to an interview by Border Patrol agents witnessed by HSI investigators. Bejarano allegedly said he knew the passengers were illegally present in the U.S. and that he was to be paid $2,000 if he dropped them off in the Dallas area, court records show.
Bejarano allegedly stated he had previously transported non-citizens from El Paso to Dallas and brought back the profits to El Paso.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office requested that Bejarano be held without bond citing he’s a flight risk. U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert F. Castaneda granted the motion prior to Wednesday’s indictment.