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Monday, June 17, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Two Soldiers Charged|With Smuggling Aliens

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (CN) — Two active-duty Army men appeared in court Wednesday on charges of trying to smuggle undocumented immigrants through a Border Patrol checkpoint in Texas and face 10 years in federal prison if they are convicted.

Marco Antonio Nava Jr., 19, and Joseph Edmond Cleveland, 25, both of El Paso, made their initial appearances before a federal magistrate judge in Corpus Christi.

A Homeland Security investigator described their arrests in a Sept. 28 affidavit that was unsealed on Oct. 21.

Homeland Security Agent Anne McGee said that Nava pulled his 2012 Mazda into a Border Patrol checkpoint in Falfurrias on June 18 with Cleveland riding shotgun.

Border Patrol Agent Alberto Guzman saw two men sitting in the back of the car and asked the left-rear passenger in English where he was going.

"He said, 'San Antonio.' BPA Guzman then asked what his name was, to which he also replied, 'San Antonio.' BPA Guzman asked him if he spoke English in the Spanish language and he said, 'No,'" according to the affidavit.

The man identified himself as Marcelino Oliveros-Padilla and admitted to Guzman he was in the United States illegally.

"At this time, all occupants were placed under arrest and escorted inside the USBP checkpoint for further processing and inspection," the affidavit states.

Border Patrol agents interviewed Oliveros-Padilla and the other back-seat passenger, Jose Osorio-Rebollar, and the men said they had crossed the Rio Grande on a raft and entered the U.S. illegally eight days before they were arrested. They were taken to trailer homes and told someone would pick them up and take them to Houston.

Nava picked them up on June 18. "Once in the vehicle, they were told they were going to go through an immigration checkpoint and they were coached as what to answer to the agent's questions at the checkpoint," the affidavit states.

McGee said DHS opened an investigation and Osorio-Rebollar was deported the same day.

Prosecutors designated Oliveros-Padilla a material witness to the soldiers' alleged crimes and charged him with improper entry by an alien. He was sentenced to 120 days in federal prison on June 20.

A federal grand jury indicted Nava and Cleveland on Oct. 12 on two counts of human smuggling and they were arrested in El Paso on Oct. 21.

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