Already-deported men in minivan
A Houston woman faces trial Aug. 16 in Baton Rouge federal court on a charge that she illegally transported and harbored illegal aliens.
Sonia Lisseth Suazo, 38, was arrested June 2 after a traffic stop on Interstate 10 near Port Allen.
Passengers in Suazo’s silver 2002 Honda Odyssey minivan included her child, her half-brother and seven undocumented people, according to an affidavit by Special Agent Richard V. Lovell of Homeland Security Investigations.
Although Suazo has pleaded innocent to the charge, Lovell noted that she admitted after a Miranda warning that she has received thousands of dollars to transport undocumented people from Houston to Miami.
One of Suazo’s passengers June 2 was Mario Noel Torres-Rodriguez, who was deported to Honduras in February 2009 “after receiving a felony conviction for sexual battery on a juvenile in the state of Florida,” Lovell said in his affidavit.
Another passenger was Eduardo Antonio Bamaca, who had been deported from the San Antonio area to Guatemala less than three months before the traffic stop near Port Allen, court records show. Those records include Lovell’s affidavit and indictments obtained against Suazo, Torres-Rodriguez and Bamaca by Assistant U.S. Attorney Alan A. Stevens.
Torres-Rodriguez and Bamaca are charged with one count of illegally re-entering the United States.
Suazo’s minivan was stopped after midnight on June 2 when Deputy Chris Green of the West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office observed the vehicle “make an improper lane change and cross the solid white fog line onto the highway’s rumble strip,” Lovell reported.
Lovell said the driver of the minivan was Julian Brizuela-Trochez, a citizen of Honduras living in Florida as a permanent resident alien.
Lovell added that Brizuela-Trochez identified himself as Suazo’s half-brother. The agent also quoted Brizuela-Trochez as saying he agreed to serve as driver on the June trip because he had “been laid off by his employer, and he needed the money.”
Suazo waived her right to remain silent and said she was solicited by an individual known only as “Alex” to drive illegal aliens from Houston to Miami, Lovell reported.
“Suazo stated that this was the fifth time she had transported illegal aliens from Houston to Miami,” Lovell said in his affidavit. “She expected to be paid a total of $2,500 cash for transporting the seven illegal aliens.”
Lovell added that Suazo said she received $300 per person on her four previous trips to Miami. The agent quoted Suazo as saying she kept illegal aliens at her Houston residence long enough to gather a full load for the trips.
Lovell said interviews with four of Suazo’s passengers revealed that they had entered the country illegally near McAllen, Texas.
“After entering the United States, they negotiated to be transported to Houston … at which point they were delivered to a house that they later understood to be Suazo’s,” Lovell said.
The indictments of Suazo and Bamaca were assigned to Chief U.S. District Judge Brian A. Jackson.
U.S. District Judge James J. Brady was assigned Tores-Rodriguez’ case.
Court records show Torrez-Rodriguez and Bamaca remain in federal custody.
The other five undocumented passengers were arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement/Enforcement and Removal Operations “and are subject to removal,” Lovell reported.
Like her passengers, Suazo first entered the United States illegally, according to Lovell’s affidavit. The citizen of Honduras made her entry in 1998 and later was granted temporary protective status, Lovell reported.
Suazo was released June 11 from custody in her criminal case on bail of $10,000 that was set by U.S. Magistrate Judge Docia Dalby. The defendant returned to Baton Rouge on June 26 to enter her plea of innocent, court records show.