Human Trafficking Suspects Also Charged With Money Laundering

( – One unlucky group of criminals thought they’d found a clever way to hide their illegal income. Last September, the suspects were arrested and indicted for running a large human trafficking network. Now federal agents have unraveled their financial operations and charged them with money laundering, too.

On September 13, 2022, a federal joint task force arrested eight people-smugglers in Texas and indicted them on charges of unlawfully transporting Mexican, Guatemalan, and Colombian migrants around the US. The leader of the gang was Erminia Serrano Piedra, who went by the name “Boss Lady,” and she specialized in picking up illegals just north of the border and transporting them deeper into the US.

The immigrants were often transported in brutally uncomfortable ways, including being hidden in suitcases, concealed in pickup truck beds, shut into wooden crates and loaded on flatbeds, or even packed into water tankers. The gang allegedly ran a network of safe houses where migrants were temporarily kept along their journeys, including locations in Laredo and Austin.

Now, Piedra and three of her accomplices have been hit with a second batch of indictments. Investigators have discovered that after collecting their fee from migrants — who were charged up to $2,500 a head for transportation — the gang disguised the money as payments for fake construction jobs. They allegedly recruited people who were willing to take the money and then “pay” it to the gang leaders in exchange for work that never happened. Some of their associates were businesses that accepted cash and then sent checks to the traffickers from their business accounts.

As well as Piedra, the Justice Department (DOJ) indicted Oscar Angel Monroy Alcibar, Pedro Hairo Abrigo, and Juan Diego Martinez-Rodriguez on money-laundering charges. The DOJ has also seized almost $3 million in cash and three properties with a combined value of another $3 million.

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