Trial dates pushed back in human smuggling case - Brownsville Herald: Local News

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Trial dates pushed back in human smuggling case

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Posted: Wednesday, December 4, 2019 8:00 am

Two defendants involved in a human smuggling and money laundering case appeared in federal court in Brownsville last week where attorneys pushed back trial dates in order to work out plea agreements with government counsel.

Ismael De Jesus-Flores and Eloisa Silva were arrested as part of the same case nearly two years apart. Flores, who faces the brunt of the charges, was arrested on May 18, 2017.

The man appeared in handcuffs and a prison jumpsuit and has remained in custody pending trial as a result of an order of detention filed on May 23, 2017 during Flores’ arraignment that cites his criminal history, which included eight felony convictions.

Also cited was that Flores’ father is a Mexican national who resides in Mexico and that Flores had allegedly continued criminal activity while under supervision for prior convictions.

According to court records, Silva was arrested on Oct. 16 of this year and was arraigned on Oct. 22, where she was released on a $10,000 unsecured bond.

The two appeared in court briefly for a final pre-trial hearing, where attorneys asked U.S. District Judge Fernando Rodriguez, Jr. for a 30-day extension in order to work out pending plea agreements with federal prosecutors.

An 18-count superseding indictment charged Silva and Flores alongside three other alleged co-conspirators on counts of Conspiracy to Transport/Harbor Aliens, Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering, Money Laundering by Concealing/Disguising, and Operation of Unlicensed Money Transmitting Business.

All five defendants were charged with transporting undocumented persons and conspiracy to commit money laundering. According to the indictment, the alleged events took place over the course of nearly two years, from September 2015 to May 2017.

A description of events included in the indictment stated that the defendants “opened or maintained bank accounts to receive alien smuggling fees.”

Flores was accused of maintaining accounts at BBVA Bank and Wells Fargo in his name, as well as business proprietor, conducting business as “Flores Services.”

The indictment alleges that Silva and the other defendants would “cause others to deposit and electronically wire money for alien smuggling fees through MoneyGram and Western Union”, then would withdraw that money for delivery to Flores.

Flores was charged under all 18 counts of the indictment, while Silva faced five.

Additionally, the document included a notice of forfeiture in which the government declared approximately $922,351 worth of property suspected to be involved in the offense subject to seizure by the United States.

esheridan@brownsvilleherald.com

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