As migration-related news coverage continues to center around U.S. troops deploying to the U.S.-Mexico border in anticipation of the migrant caravan’s long-awaited arrival, one service member has reportedly gone against the security grain by smuggling Mexican migrants into the United States.
California National Guardsman Pfc. Edward Jair Acosta-Avila was arrested Nov. 10 when his car was stopped near San Diego, California, about two miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border, USA Today reported.
After pulling over Acosta-Avila’s Honda Accord, Customs and Border Protection agents apprehended five individuals, including three undocumented Mexican nationals who were discovered hiding under a blanket in the back seat.
Acosta-Avila, along with one other passenger who was identified as U.S. citizen, has been charged in federal court with human trafficking
The Guardsman, who was reportedly awaiting discharge for being absent without leave, told authorities he and the co-defendant planned to split a payment of $400 for shuttling the three men into the U.S.
The Mexican nationals told officials they “made smuggling arrangements and agreed to pay between $6,000 and $7,000 each to be smuggled into the United States,” the report said.
For now, the three men will be detained to serve as witnesses in the case, Fox 5 San Diego reported. They will later face the standard deportation process.
Acosta-Avila was reportedly not part of the U.S. border security mission, one in which an estimated 7,000 troops are expected to deploy in support of at various locations along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Jon Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times, and a USMC veteran.