HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — A woman attempted to smuggle multiple migrants with the use of loud music and fried chicken to distract agents while crossing an immigration checkpoint on Sunday.
The woman driving, Brittany Wilhite, raised concern after answering questions oddly from agents at the United States Border Patrol Immigration Checkpoint near Sarita.
When agents questioned Wilhite on her citizenship status she replied “‘Yes hunny” and began to dance in the vehicle with the music volume extremely loud,” according to the criminal complaint.
Moving on, agents went to question backseat passengers.
Instead of responding to the agent’s questions, the backseat passengers began taking bites of the fried chicken.
Wilhite responded for the passengers stating “‘Yes, everyone is a U.S. citizen, baby.’”
The agent asked the passengers once again if they were United States citizens. “This time the passenger moved his head up and down as if he was nodding while taking another bite of chicken,” according to the criminal complaint.
The agent directed the group to a secondary inspection.
Officials discovered that the backseat passengers were not citizens and placed Wilhite and the front seat passenger, Tyrone Ervin under arrest.
According to the complaint, Ervin told agents during an interview that Wilhite was contacted by a person known as “Big Boy,” who directed her to smuggle the three individuals through the checkpoint.
Wilhite was given the addresses to pick up the migrants from San Juan and McAllen from ‘Big Boy” where she would then drive them to Houston and receive a payment of $1,000.
“Wilhite admitted to smuggling [people] on prior dates and had been caught each time,” according to statements from Wilhite in the complaint.
Ervin explained how he became involved in the incident explaining that Wilhite picked him up from the shelter where he lives and was asked to go on a “run” with her.
Ervin told agents that he understood that a “run” was a reference to “picking up and smuggling people.”
Additionally, Ervin stated, “he knew Wilhite had smuggled at least ten times and has bragged in the past about the amount of money she has received from those actions.”
“Ervin stated they then drove to the checkpoint. Ervin stated before they arrived at the checkpoint Wilhite told the [migrants] they were getting close to the checkpoint, to act normal, and eat some fried chicken,” the complaint stated. “Ervin stated Wilhite’s dancing and loud music was part of her act to get through the checkpoint.”
Wilhite and Ervin made a first appearance for the smuggling charges Wednesday in Corpus Christi federal court in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Mitchel Neurock, court records indicate.