National Guard Soldier Arrested, Charged With Smuggling Illegal Aliens Into United States

A National Guardsman was arrested and charged with the human trafficking of illegal aliens into the United States after he was caught near San Diego with three Mexican nationals.

Edward Jair Acosta-Avila was charged in federal court with attempting to smuggle the three Mexicans into the United States after being caught on Nov. 10.

Acosta-Avila is a private in the California Army National Guard and was pending discharge for being absent without leave, or AWOL, at the time of his arrest.

Acosta-Avila was not part of the surge of troops sent to the border nor was he assigned to border duty, Air Force Lt. Col. Thomas Keegan told USA Today.

The private was driving about 2 miles north of the border when he was stopped by a Border Patrol agent. Three men were in the back seat and tried to hide under a blanket.

San Ysidro port of entry temporarily closed
The San Ysidro port of entry at the U.S.-Mexico border is seen from Tijuana, Mexico, on Nov. 16, 2018. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

Acosta-Avila told authorities that another man had asked him to drive to an area near the border to pick some people up.

Acosta-Avila’s friend told authorities that he planned to split $400 with him for smuggling the three men into America, while the three men said that they “made smuggling arrangements and agreed to pay between $6,000 and $7,000 each to smuggled into the United States.”

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer Ralph Desio told Fox 5 that Acosta-Avila and a man in the front seat were U.S. citizens but the three men in the back seat were illegal immigrants.

The aliens are being held as witnesses in the case and will later face deportation proceedings.

Troops Arrive To U.S. Mexico Border Spots Where Migrant Caravan May Arrive In Coming Weeks
U.S. Army soldiers from Fort Riley, Kansas, string razor wire near the port of entry at the U.S.-Mexico border in Donna, Texas on Nov. 4, 2018. (John Moore/Getty Images)

Troops at Border

The arrest and charge came as thousands of troops rushed to the border to harden it by placing concertina wire and other obstacles around critical entry points in an effort to prevent the migrant caravans from bursting through.

Some 5,900 troops are currently deployed across California, Arizona, and Texas to provide support for Border Patrol agents, placing the wire, driving agents around, and conducting other duties.

President Donald Trump said on Nov. 17 that the troops would stay at the border “as long as necessary”

“The fence is fully manned, nobody gets through,” he said. “When they’re caught, they’re not released.”

Army Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan said on Nov. 19 that the troops should be home by Christmas. “Our end date right now is 15 December, and I’ve got no indications from anybody that we’ll go beyond that,” he told Politico.

Engineers and logistics troops, who make up the bulk of the deployment, will begin returning home soon, he added.

His announcement came as the San Ysidro port of entry was temporarily closed on Monday, as troops and Border Patrol agents hardened the area after hearing of a possible border rush from migrants in the area.

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen later said that officials were notified that a large number of migrants from the caravan “were planning to rush the border in an attempt to gain illegal access to the U.S.”

“Unfortunately, some members of the caravan are purposely causing disruptions at our border ports of entry. There is a legal and illegal way to enter the US. We have deployed additional forces to protect our border. We will enforce all our laws,” she added.