Convicted human smuggler pleads guilty to new charge

McALLEN — A previously convicted human smuggler pleaded guilty to a smuggling charge related to her July arrest near Roma, court records show.

During a re-arraignment hearing Wednesday morning, Elvia Elvira Uriegas pleaded guilty to one count of bringing in and harboring before U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez.

Uriegas, a native of Roma, was arrested by U.S. Border Patrol agents July 21 after she was found with two undocumented immigrants in her vehicle near the Rio Grande, in an area “commonly used by human smugglers to pick up undocumented aliens due to its close proximity” to the river, the complaint states.

“…Camera operators observed several subjects cross the Rio Grande River on a raft near Guerra Avenue in Roma, Texas,” the court record shows.

Border Patrol agents relayed the information to agents in the area, who in turn positioned themselves just north of Guerra Avenue where they observed a black Cadillac and a blue sedan that appeared to be “scouting” for law enforcement.

During an attempt to pull over the Cadillac, agents stated they observed at least one person fleeing from the vehicle, the record states.

“Agents approached the vehicle and identified the driver as (Uriegas), a United States citizen. Uriegas was accompanied by her juvenile daughter, who was sitting in the front passenger seat,” the complaint states.

Also in the vehicle was a Mexican national later identified as Mauro Miguel Silva-Olivares, who did not have authorization to be in the country, the record states.

The person who ran from the Cadillac moments earlier was subsequently detained and arrested after it was determined he was also in the country without legal status.

During an interview with law enforcement, the 34-year-old woman admitted she was hired by an unknown person from Mexico to pick up two undocumented immigrants, for which she was going to be paid a total of $600, the complaint states.

“Uriegas stated she was receiving instructions over the phone and was eventually going to receive instructions on where to take (the two undocumented persons),” the record states.

Uriegas was in the same position more than seven years ago, when she pleaded guilty to the same federal charge in connection with an April 2011 incident in which Border Patrol agents found her with six undocumented persons, court records show.

During that incident on April 2, 2011, Uriegas fled from Border Patrol agents and Sullivan City police officers who gave chase.

Sullivan City police followed Uriegas as she drove away from them on dirt roads, nearly flipping over the vehicle she was driving, a Dodge Durango, before she crashed into a police unit.

Subsequently, at least two officers and three immigrants received medical treatment as a result of the chase.

In addition, Uriegas and two of the undocumented immigrants she was smuggling tried to run from the scene of the crash, but a U.S. Customs and Border Protection helicopter spotted them and located them as they hid in the brush.

In addition to the guilty plea, for which she received a 27-month sentence with an additional four years of supervised release, Uriegas was ordered to pay nearly $6,000 in restitution to the people who were injured as a result of the crash, court records show.

Uriegas, who remains free on a $30,000 bond, is scheduled back for sentencing before Alvarez Dec. 13, court notes show.