World

Woman pleads guilty to running India-to-U.S. human smuggling operation via Mexico

Rosa Astrid Umanzor-López before being extradited to the U.S.

Rosa Astrid Umanzor-López before being extradited to the U.S.  (Sistema Penitenciario)

A Guatemalan woman has pleaded guilty to helping smuggle immigrants from India into Texas via Mexico.

Rosa Astrid Umanzor-López pleaded guilty Friday to conspiracy and human smuggling in a federal court in Houston. She said that between January 2011 and her arrest in Guatemala on Feb. 4, 2014, she and other conspirators recruited individuals in India who were willing to pay large sums of money to be smuggled into the United States.

The 36-year-old Umanzor-Lopez was extradited in April from Guatemala on charges of human smuggling and conspiracy to smuggle immigrants into the U.S. for profit. Umanzor-López helped run the scheme from 2011 until her arrest last year in Guatemala.

The investigation was carried out by agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement along with U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Alien Smuggling Interdiction Unit.

Prosecutors say immigrants from India seeking to enter the U.S. illegally were transported through South America and Central America, then from Mexico into Texas. The immigrants traveled by air, boats and foot to reach the Texas border near McAllen and Laredo.

“For their smuggling operations, Umanzor-López and her co-conspirators used a network of facilitators to transport groups of undocumented migrants from India through South America and Central America and then into the United States by air travel, automobiles, water craft and foot,” the Justice Department said in a press release. “Many of these smuggling events involved illegal entry into the United States via the U.S.-Mexico border near McAllen and Laredo, Texas.”

Three co-defendants were earlier convicted and sentenced. Prosecutors didn't immediately provide penalty information for Umanzor-López, but her sentencing hearing is scheduled for March 4, 2016 in Houston.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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