Fake license plate with vulgar Spanish slur leads Waco police to alleged human trafficker
Four undocumented immigrants detained; $19K seized
WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Police arrested Bertin Lopez-Jimenez, 17, charged with four second-degree felony counts of smuggling of persons, after officers received information about suspicious activity in a south Waco neighborhood and later spotted a Chevrolet pickup with defective headlights, and a fake license plate with a sexual slur in Spanish, according to a court document obtained by KWTX.
The arrest was made at about 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 8, at 9:30 a.m. in the 1900 block of Nelva Street. Police officers observed a vehicle with what they described as a “fictitious” Texas license plate leaving the area and pulled the driver over.
Officers with the Street Crimes Unit, the K9 Unit, and police detectives conducted a more thorough investigation and discovered four individuals in the vehicle with Lopez-Jimenez were smuggled across the U.S.-Mexico border illegally.
Police seized $19,250.00 in U.S. currency found in a bag inside the pickup and arrested the driver, later identified as Lopez-Jimenez.
“Mr. Lopez admitted he knew that the four passengers in his vehicle had been smuggled illegally into the country and that he knew this before he came to Waco,” an affidavit for warrantless arrest alleges.
Two of the undocumented immigrants in the truck told police they each paid $5,000 to be smuggled into the U.S. A third individual said he paid $3,000, and the fourth individual said he crossed the border on his own, the court document states.
When asked about the $19,000 found in the bag inside his truck, Lopez-Jimenez told police it was going to be paid to the four undocumented immigrants for roofing work they had done in Waco over the past three to four days, the affidavit states.
Investigators, however, claim Lopez-Jimenez was paid the $19,000 to transport the undocumented immigrants to Dallas and Houston.
Waco police said Homeland Security investigators and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents took custody of the four passengers.
Lopez-Jimenez remains jailed at the McLennan County Jail on a $40,000 bond.
Officials urge the public to report anything suspicious to the Waco Police Department at 254-750-7500 or give an anonymous tip to Crime Stoppers at 254-753-4357.
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