Mission woman sentenced on human smuggling charges

McALLEN — When a U.S. Border Patrol agent pulled over a Mission woman, she told the agent she didn’t want to be in trouble for human smuggling again, according to a criminal complaint.

Priscilla Ann Rodriguez will spend two years in federal prison after pleading guilty to one count of bringing in and harboring immigrants in connection with a September 2017 arrest in La Joya, according to court records.

U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez accepted Rodriguez’s plea agreement and sentenced her to 24 months in prison with an additional three years supervised release, court records show.

In exchange for her guilty plea, two other charges Rodriguez faced were dismissed, court records show.

Rodriguez, 31, was arrested by Border Patrol agents on Sept. 17, 2017, after Customs and Border Protection officers were tipped off that two vehicles, one loaded with several individuals, was leaving an area near the Texas Port of Entry near Los Ebanos.

“… As the agent attempted to pull behind (one vehicle), the (other vehicle) attempted to block the agent by increasing and decreasing its speed,” the complaint states. “This tactic is used to protect the load vehicle from being stopped by law enforcement.”

Eventually the agent pulled Rodriguez over in La Joya, where he encountered the Mission woman and three other people inside the vehicle.

Rodriguez, a U.S. citizen, told the agent “she didn’t want to get in trouble for his again,” and “that she has already been in trouble for this.”

In fact, Rodriguez, who was arrested four previous times on the same federal immigrant smuggling charge, had only one prior conviction after a guilty plea in late 2014, court records show.

In that case Rodriguez was found with four undocumented persons while driving through Peñitas and claimed she was to receive $150 per person she smuggled, court records show.

She pleaded guilty to one count in that instance and was sentenced to 10 months in prison with an additional two years of supervised release, court records show.