Three U.S. soldiers charged with human smuggling were stationed at Ford Hood, Texas. The indictments come after the three active duty soldiers were investigated for the smuggling of illegal aliens over the border form Mexico. The 3 US soldiers are charged with one count of conspiracy to transport and harbor aliens and six counts of transporting aliens. If convicted, each of the 3 U.S. soldiers face up to ten years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 fine.
The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson and Special Agent in Charge Janice Ayala of Homeland Security Investigation, according to a Reuters report. The 3 US soldiers charged are Eric Alexander Rodriguez, Brandon Troy Robbins, and Christopher David Wix, all active duty Army personnel at Ford Hood. Another man, Arnoldo Gracia was also named, but is not a soldier.
The three made their initial appearance before a judge on Friday and were denied bail.
The investigation into the 3 US soldiers charged began in September when Rodriguez, wearing his U.S. Army uniform, attempted to cross the border with two illegal aliens hidden in his pickup truck. The other three arrests were made last week in connection with the September incident with allegations of conspiracy and helping Rodriguez on at least two other runs through the Sarita checkpoint into the United States plus four more which Rodriguez may not have been involved with, but which the others of the 3 US soldiers charged were.
A joint investigation by Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Army Criminal Investigations Command resulted in the indictments given to the 3 US soldiers charged and the fourth man, Gracia, who is now in custody.
“HSI is dedicated to working closely with its law enforcement partners in all arenas in pursuit of identifying, arresting and prosecuting individuals involved in human smuggling, regardless of their position.” said Janice Ayala, special agent in charge of HSI San Antonio in a statement.
Photos of the 3 US soldiers charged were released to local news and published by KXXV on their website. Both Rodriguez and Robbins are 20 years of age while Wix is 21. The other accused man, according to that report, is 45.
The 3 US soldiers charged will also face court martial and discharge should the federal charges lead to conviction.