Hemet Pilot Accused Of Flying Illegal Immigrants From Mexico Border Into SoCal

RIVERSIDE (CBS) — A U.S. citizen faced smuggling charges Wednesday after border officials uncovered a new method of smuggling illegal immigrants into Southern California.

KNX 1070’s Tom Reopelle reports Lino Rodriguez is accused of flying Mexican migrants from the Imperial Valley to Hemet and other locations.

“After they entered the United States, they were taken to a stash house, and we put them under surveillance from that point,” said Lauren Mack with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The illegal immigrants were then taken from the stash house and moved to a hotel in El Centro, at which point they were followed as they moved to the Imperial County Airport, where authorities arrested Rodriguez, a U.S. citizen from Hemet.

Rodriquez, 30, faces smuggling charges for allowing three migrants from Mexico to board his Cessna in what authorities said was the fourth plane used for smuggling in the El Centro area within the last year.

Rodriguez pleaded not guilty on and was released on $20,000 bail.

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