Reserve Deputy Busted as a Coyote
SAN DIEGO (CN) - A reserve deputy for Imperial County was charged Thursday with smuggling undocumented people through a checkpoint while wearing her uniform and carrying a gun.
Elizabeth Hernandez, 23, of El Centro, was arrested Wednesday and charged with transporting illegal aliens and aiding and abetting, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.
Also arrested and charged as Edna Yanie Calderon, 22, who allegedly delivered the three undocumented people to Hernandez. Both women live in El Centro.
Calderon picked up three undocumented people at a fast-food restaurant in Calexico and drove them to Hernandez's home, according to the federal indictment.
Hernandez, who has been a reserve deputy for 3 years, put them in the trunk of her car and drove them through a Border Patrol checkpoint, tailed by Calderon, prosecutors say.
"Hernandez wore her uniform because she expected to be waved through the Highway 86 checkpoint by Border Patrol," U.S. attorney said in a statement. The gun she carried was issued by the Sheriff's Department.
She was waved through, but the Border Patrol was watching. They arrested both women after they met at a gas station and two of the smuggled people got out of Hernandez's trunk and into Calderon's car, prosecutors said. All three were citizens of Mexico.
If convicted, the women face up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 fines. Prosecutors want them detained as flight risks. A detention hearing has been set for Tuesday, April 23.