- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Justice Department announced charges Wednesday against a pair of active duty Army soldiers accused of illegally transporting two undocumented immigrants.

The soldiers — Marco Antonio Nava Jr., 19, and Joseph Edmond Cleveland, 25, both from El Paso — were arraigned Wednesday by a magistrate in Corpus Cristi on one count each of transporting an alien and conspiring to transport aliens, prosecutors said in a statement.

Both men pleaded not guilty to all counts, according to court documents.

An affidavit that was initially filed under seal claims the men were caught by a U.S. Border Patrol Agent earlier this year while riding around with two undocumented immigrants in the back seat of Mr. Nava’s car roughly 13 miles south of Falfurrias, Texas.

Border Agent Alberto Guzman said he interviewed the occupants of vehicle at an immigration checkpoint there on June 18 and soon learned that neither of the individuals in the back seat had entered the United States lawfully, according to court documents.

The two passengers told investigators upon further interrogation that they had recently entered the U.S. on a raft and had been residing in a local trailer park prior to being picked up earlier that afternoon by Mr. Nava, who they believed was taking them to Houston.

The men said they entered Mr. Nava’s car about 3 p.m. and “were coached as what to answer to the agent’s questions at the checkpoint,” according to the affidavit. They arrived at the inspection point about an hour later, when one of the men, Marcelino Oliveros-Padilla, reportedly told the border agent that he did not have the proper documents needed to legally be in the country.

Investigators soon determined Oliveros-Padilla and the other civilian passenger, Jose Osorio-Rebollar, were both in the U.S. illegally, the affidavit said. Mr. Osorio-Rebollar was deported June 20, while Mr. Oliveros-Padilla serves an 120-day jail sentence for illegal entry.

The two soldiers were released by border agents at the time of the incident, and the were both arrested late last month. They’re both slated to appear back in court for a pretrial conference on Nov. 29, according to legal filings.

If convicted on all counts, the soldiers each face a maximum of 10 years in prison.

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