A fourth soldier, formerly on active duty with the U.S. Army based at Fort Hood, has admitted she is guilty of alien smuggling charges, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Yashira Marie Perez-Morales, 25, of Killeen, appeared in court today and admitted she smuggled undocumented aliens pass the immigration checkpoint located at Sarita.
Three other former soldiers have also been convicted. Eric Alexander Rodriguez, 20, from Odem, Brandon Troy Robbins, 20, from San Antonio, and Christopher David Wix, 21, from Abilene, were all formerly on active duty with the U.S. Army based at Fort Hood. They were charged along with Arnoldo Gracia, 45, from Harlingen, who also entered a plea of guilty.
Evidence presented at the guilty plea today proved that during late spring to early fall 2014, Gracia provided undocumented aliens to Rodriguez, Robbins, Wix and Perez-Morales who would then drive separately through the immigration checkpoint located at Sarita. The former soldiers were successful on several occasions as they hid the aliens under their military gear. However, on three separate occasions occurring on April 13, June 21 and Sept. 11, 2014, authorities discovered the aliens with Robbins, Wix, and Rodriguez, respectively. That prompted Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) to further the overall investigation which led to the identification of Gracia and Perez-Morales.
U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen, who accepted the guilty plea, has set the sentencing for Perez-Morales for Nov. 30, 2015. Rodriguez, Robbins and Gracia are set for Oct. 6, 2015, before U.S. District Judge Hilda Tagle. At that time, each faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 fine. U.S. District Judge Hilda Tagle sentenced Wix on July 7, 2015, to a term of 12 months and one day to be followed by two years of supervised release.
The charges are the result of an investigation conducted by HSI with the assistance of Customs and Border Protection. Assistant U.S. Attorney Oscar Ponce is prosecuting the case