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Alleged Ringleader of Human Smuggling Organization Extradited to San Diego

Alleged Ringleader of Human Smuggling Organization Extradited to San Diego

Migrants use a rope ladder to illegally climb over the U.S. border wall separating the United States from Mexico in El Centro, Calif. on Oct. 6, 2022. (Allison Dinner/AFP via Getty Images)

City News Service

City News Service

9/13/2023

Updated: 9/13/2023

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SAN DIEGO—The alleged leader of a “prolific” human smuggling organization has been extradited to San Diego, where he faces federal charges for allegedly bringing hundreds of migrants into the United States, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said on Sept. 12.
Prosecutors say Luis Antonio Mendez-Brahan, 55, of Tijuana, ran a smuggling organization for nearly a decade that charged migrants between $6,000 and $8,000 to be smuggled across the border.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said financial transactions conducted by Mr. Mendez-Brahan’s children in the United States were tracked to money service businesses in Tijuana, which led law enforcement to Mr. Mendez-Brahan.
Three of his children—Wendy Monserrath Mendez, 24; Christopher Mendez, 28; Nancy Jacqueline Suarez, 31—have already pleaded guilty and been sentenced for roles in their father’s alleged smuggling operation.
Mr. Mendez-Brahan was indicted by a grand jury in 2019 for one count of conspiring to bring illegal immigrants into the U.S., and charged with five counts of bringing unlawful immigrants into the country, but was at large at the time.
According to the U.S. Attorney of Southern California, Mr. Mendez-Brahan’s organization allegedly ran operations in a location east of the Tecate Port of Entry using a system of ever-changing spotters, guides, and drivers to smuggle the illegal immigrants in.
Julianne Foster contributed to this article.
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