Most human smugglers transport illegal immigrants through the roughmonte of the South Texas ranchlands.
But on Wednesday, Border Patrol agents say they caught a man trying to use a private plane to fly a group of illegal immigrants to San Antonio.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement alongside Border Patrol performed a routine check of a private aircraft pilot and five passengers Wednesday afternoon at the McAllen-Miller International Airport, a criminal complaint states.
Five illegal immigrants told agents they are from Mexico and had been delivered to the airport by Luis Gallegos Avila, who helped pick up the immigrants when they illegally crossed the Rio Grande, the complaint states.
The five Mexican citizens said they had been staying at several area stash houses until about 8 a.m. Wednesday, when Gallegos drove one of the immigrants to the McAllen airport and bought a private charter flight to San Antonio.
The immigrants told agents Gallegos told them to say “yes” if agents asked if they were U.S. citizens upon boarding the private flight at the airport.
“Gallegos assured the undocumented immigrants that everything would be fine, and there would be no problems at the airport,” the complaint states.
Agents say Gallegos was seen dropping off the immigrants at the airport about 2 p.m. Wednesday, shortly before they detained the group and arrested him on human smuggling charges.
Gallegos remained in federal custody Thursday, court records state