Sullivan City man who ran ‘filthy’ Edinburg stash house gets 8 years

A 37-year-old Sullivan City man who led authorities on a 20-mile pursuit and kept more than two dozen people in the country illegally, including minors, inside a filthy stash house that had an overflowing septic tank was sentenced Thursday to more than eight years in federal prison.

U.S. District Judge Randy Crane handed down the sentence for Emanuel Salinas, who pleaded guilty on May 14, 2021, to a count of bringing in and harboring people in the country.

Border Patrol arrested Salinas on Feb. 23, 2021, after agents were conducting surveillance at an Edinburg residence suspected of being a stash house.

“There, they observed a silver Jeep Grand Cherokee arrive and park outside the residence,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a news release. “Salinas was later determined to be the driver. Several individuals exited the residence and entered the Jeep, which departed and began traveling northbound before stopping at a parking area in San Carlos.”

The Texas Department of Public Safety attempted to conduct a consensual encounter with Salinas, who immediately fled.

“He soon led authorities on a 20-mile vehicular pursuit. He did allow four people to exit the vehicle, but still had two others inside, one of whom was an unaccompanied minor. He then continued traveling in excess of 100 mph while weaving through traffic,” the news release stated.

The complaint against Salinas says a DPS helicopter was involved in the chase and that several people in the vehicle were taken to the hospital after it crashed.

One of the women in the vehicle, a citizen of Guatemala, told investigators at the beginning of the chase there were a total seven people in it, according to the complaint.

She told agents Salinas was running red lights and that she thought she was going to die because the driver was going so fast she couldn’t even put on her seatbelt.

“(She) said that she asked the driver to stop but he said no. (She) said that they approached a red light, but they were going so fast that they crashed into another car,” the complaint stated.

The news release also notes that Crane, the judge, heard about the harsh living conditions the 26 people, including a minor, were subjected to inside the Edinburg stash house, which included trash piled up in the rooms and its septic tank overflowing onto a neighboring property.

Crane took note of the foul conditions and the fact that minors were involved into his sentencing, according to the news release.

Salinas’ co-defendant, Armando Guevera-Perez, previously pleaded guilty to the same charge and he was sentenced to eight months in federal prison on Sept. 9, 2021, court records indicate.

He was arrested after leaving the Edinburg stash house in a vehicle with four people in the country illegally, and previously told investigators that an unknown smuggler in Mexico asked him to pick up some people and take them to an unknown location for a fee of $50 per person, according to the complaint.

Guevera was indicted on three counts related to the smuggling even and in exchange for his guilty plea, federal prosecutors dropped the other two counts, court records indicate.

Salinas originally faced four counts and prosecutors agreed to drop three of the counts in exchange for his guilty plea.