Coyotes using wristbands to identify people being smuggled into the US

A criminal complaint filed in federal court Wednesday reveals smugglers are using wristbands to identify people they are smuggling into the country illegally.

The complaint filed against Elizabeth Benitez, a U.S. citizen born in 1971, accuses her of smuggling a Peruvian, a Guatemalan and two others into the country near Escobares in Starr County.

Border Patrol encountered the woman while conducting surveillance in what agents say is a well-known residential area notorious for illegal smuggling activity.

“Agents observed two (2) subjects exiting a residence, wearing dark clothing and a white wrist band. Agents have encountered this tactic used by smugglers in the past, where smugglers place a wrist band with a different color on the smuggled person to identify them,” the complaint states.

The newspaper reviews federal complaints daily and this may be the first mention of the tactic in a charging document filed in McAllen.

Border Patrol says they watched the people climb into a maroon Chevrolet truck. Agents then followed it to another location, at which point the vehicle’s driver met with a woman driving a silver Land Rover.

“A moment later, agents observed the maroon truck leaving the area, now only occupied by the driver,” the complaint states.

Border Patrol then followed the Land Rover and requested assistance from the Texas Department of Public Safety, which conducted a traffic stop for a defective tail lamp.

Gov. Greg Abbott recently sent an influx of DPS troopers to Starr County to assist Border Patrol with immigration enforcement.

“Agents immediately arrived on scene and were informed by the trooper that he was able to observe several subjects in the rear seat concealing themselves with a blanket,” the complaint says.

That document says everyone was arrested.

During an interview, Benitez told investigators that a friend asked her to pick up four people in a pink trailer in Roma and transport them to McAllen, according to Border Patrol.

“Benitez claimed that she felt obligated to do the job since she is in debt with her friend,” the complaint says.

She made her first appearance Thursday and is temporarily being held without bond pending further court proceedings, records show.