Woman in human smuggling case sentenced to time served

DOCS: The 25-year-old said trouble finding work led her to smuggle people

McALLEN — A woman from the Houston area will be required to serve a month of home confinement for her role in an attempted human smuggling case, court records show.

U.S. District Judge Randy Crane sentenced 25-year-old Maria Isabel De Loera, of Waller, Texas, to time served and an additional three years of supervised release during a sentencing hearing Monday morning, court notes show.

>> READ THE COMPLAINT

De Loera’s sentence was related to her Feb. 1 arrest in Los Ebanos, where she was found attempting to transport four undocumented persons from an area near the Rio Grande, according to the criminal complaint filed against her.

On Feb. 1, Border Patrol agents working near Los Ebanos were alerted to a camera activated near the river that showed two people running north away from the Rio Grande.

The agents observed as a white GMC Sierra parked near an intersection, just north of the location where the subjects were seen running on camera.

“Shortly after, four subjects were seen emerging from the wooded area and boarding the GMC Sierra,” the court document stated.

While agents maintained sight of the GMC Sierra, an agent followed the vehicle and looked up it’s registration information. The vehicle was registered to an address from another city, a common trend seen among smugglers, agents noted.

When they tried to pull De Lorea over, the front and rear passenger doors flew open as the vehicle slowed down, and four people tried to flee, but they were eventually apprehended along with De Lorea.

After her arrest, De Loera told authorities her financial struggles had led her to agree to transport the undocumented persons in exchange for cash, indicating she was going to receive $200 per head.

“She stated a male friend, who she refused to identify, got her in communication with an unknown person, who offered her $200 per person she transported to McAllen, Texas,” the complaint stated.

The woman said she was told where to pick up the people via cell phone — and that the migrants had “dirty clothes,” the complaint stated.

De Loera, who pleaded guilty to the charges against her on Feb. 28, will be required to spend the first month of supervised release in home confinement, according to Crane’s sentence.