A Mexican citizen accused of running an Alamo stash house said he had been their for four months waiting to be smuggled north and estimated approximately 400 people moved through the residence during that time.
Border Patrol agents arrested Andres Mateo-Castillo, who was born in 1997, on Wednesday after following up on tip from a person in the agency’s custody.
After conducting surveillance and identifying a white utility van that had been seen departing and arriving at the location, Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office deputies conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle on Alamo Road “due to traffic infraction,” according to a criminal complaint.
The driver, Mateo, denied being involved with smuggling when questioned about by Border Patrol agents and was arrested after agents determined he was in the country illegally, Border Patrol said.
The passenger, who was also in the country illegally, denied being involved in smuggling but told agents there were more than a dozen people being harbored inside the Alamo residence, according to the complaint.
Agents and deputies approached the residence for a knock-and-talk and discovered 19 people inside who were in the country illegally.
After his arrest on a harboring charge, Border Patrol says Mateo agreed to make a statement and told investigators he agreed to pay $7,000 to be smuggled into the U.S. and after crossing the Rio Grande, he was taken to the stash house where a caretaker named “Luis” received him, took his biographical data and took possession of his cellphone.
“Mateo stated during his four (4) month stay at the stash house, he has seen approximately four hundred (400) people come and go to the stash house,” the complaint stated. “Mateo stated that he thinks that the smugglers have not taken him to his destination because when the smugglers were going to take him, the vehicle was disabled during a flash flood, and he did not help push the vehicle.”
Border Patrol said Mateo claimed on the day of his arrest he had left the stash house to fill water jugs and buy food.
“Mateo stated that he would pay the smugglers between $50-100 USD to be granted that permission to leave and buy food or beverages,” the complaint stated.
However, a Mexican citizen, a citizen of El Salvador and a Honduras citizen all identified Mateo as the caretaker of the alleged stash house, according to the complaint.
Mateo made a first appearance in McAllen federal court on Friday in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Nadia S. Medrano, who ordered him temporarily held without bond pending detention and probable cause hearings that are scheduled for later this week.