Nine arrested in suspected human smuggling case at Canadian-ND border

NECHE, N.D. (Valley News Live) – Two weeks after more than a dozen people were arrested in an alleged human smuggling case near the Canada-North Dakota border, nine more have been arrested on similar charges, but in a separate case.

Josue Huchim-Amaya, Jesus Tapia-Osuna, Jose Hernandez-Rosales, Gerardo Hernandez-Parra, Sonia Luna-Hernandez, Maria Lopez-Moguel, Brandon Balanzar-Osorio were all arrested on Dec. 2, and have since been charged with improper entry into the country by an alien. Meanwhile, Martin Loyo-Estrada and Juan Huerta-Ramos were also arrested and charged with conspiracy to transport illegal aliens and re-entry of a removed alien.

Federal court documents filed earlier this week state on Dec. 2, Border Patrol Agents were in the area of the Park Center Cemetery near Neche, which is on the United States-Canada International border. The agents were in the area due to recent illegal entry activity detected at that location. Shortly before 1 a.m., documents say the agents observed a truck approach the cemetery from the United States side and stop, and soon after a van parked on the north side of the cemetery on the Canadian side of the border.

Documents say agents watched as multiple people exited the vehicle on the Canadian side and walked toward the truck parked in the cemetery on U.S. soil. A traffic stop was soon conducted on the truck and all nine were taken into custody. Documents state each person stated they were a citizen and national of Mexico and were present in the United States illegally.

Martin Loyo-Estrada told investigators he lived in California and had for nine years. He stated he hasn’t been able to work recently and someone had offered him work smuggling aliens for money, documents allege. Loyo-Estrada said on Nov. 28 he flew from California to Minneapolis, and then took an Uber from Minneapolis to Grand Forks. Documents say he was then told to go to Cavalier where he claimed there would be a vehicle waiting for him.

On Nov. 30, Loyo-Estrada said he received orders to get into the white truck and follow a small blue pickup that would lead him to a spot to pick up people crossing the border. He said three people later got into the truck and he followed the blue pickup back to Grand Forks and dropped the three people off at a hotel. Documents say Loyo-Estrada then returned to Cavalier because he was told he would be smuggling more people the following night, which is when the arrest happened.

Loyo-Estrada stated he was supposed to get paid $1,000 for each group of illegal aliens smuggled, and he would also be reimbursed for his travel expenses.

Documents say Huerta-Ramos was ordered to help Loyo-Estrada smuggle people across the border.

Officials say no record could be found to indicate any of the nine people have ever applied for or been granted permission to re-enter the United States by the Attorney General or the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

Mugshots of the accused were not immediately available at the time of this publication.