You never know who’s riding in a car beside you on the highway.
Last Sunday, Deputy Jay-T Manoushagian with the Wise County Sheriff’s Office pulled over a late model luxury sports utility vehicle on a traffic stop near the intersection of U.S. 287 and U.S. 380 in Decatur.
Manoushagian soon discovered 10 illegal immigrants crammed into the back half of the SUV.
“He saw a vehicle speeding and driving erratically as it entered Decatur city limits,” said Wise County Sheriff David Walker. “They were telling stories that didn’t really match up.”
Driver Cliserio Gallegos-Garcia, 34, of Othello, Wash., was charged with the crime of smuggling of persons for monetary gain. He’s being held on $20,000 bond at Wise County Jail in Decatur.
Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) also has a hold on Gallegos-Garcia. Investigators found roughly $3,000 in cash on him. It’s believed he took money from the 10 illegal immigrants in exchange to smuggle them into the United States. They were en route to California when the vehicle was stopped.
Manoushagian contacted the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) unit to assist in the investigation. ICE took custody of the 10 illegal immigrants and will eventually deport them.
“We don’t see a whole lot of that here,” Walker said. “We stopped a few several years ago, but it’s not common to see that type of activity here.”
Gallegos-Garcia is suspected to be working for someone out of California, which is where the vehicle was registered. Investigators are still trying to determine where the vehicle was coming from.