Two soldiers have been arrested for alien smuggling in Texas after agents say they were caught with two illegal immigrants in the trunk of their car at a Border Patrol checkpoint, where they had hoped their military uniforms would get them through without inspection.
They were flagged for a full inspection at the Hebbronville checkpoint Sunday by an agent who thought the route they were taking to San Antonio sounded fishy.
Their explanation of a GPS on the fritz is also a common excuse smugglers give.
In the secondary inspection, agents popped the sedan’s trunk and discovered two migrants from Mexico.
One of the soldiers, Emmanuel Oppongagyare, who holds dual citizenship in the U.S. and Ghana, told agents they were specifically instructed to wear their uniforms to avoid questioning by Border Patrol.
The other soldier arrested is Ralph Gregory Saint-Joie, a U.S. citizen. He invoked his right to remain silent, according to court documents.
The case is the latest in a string of incidents in which members of the U.S. military have been implicated in migrant smuggling.
Marines stationed at bases in California were arrested in 2019 and 2020 on smuggling charges too, in what authorities came to believe was a large smuggling ring operating at Camp Pendleton.
After the initial arrests in July 2019, two dozen Marines were arrested during a battalion formation later that month, all deemed to have been part of smuggling operations.
All of them were eventually ousted with less-than-honorable discharges, the NBC affiliate in San Diego reported.
Even that series of arrests didn’t stem things. Marines were arrested in December 2019 and again in February 2020.