Tip leads Border Patrol to San Juan stash house

A tip, surveillance and a traffic stop for “unlawful dark tinted windows” resulted in the detention of 20 people in the country illegally and the arrest of the alleged caretaker of a San Juan stash house.

U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested Rigoberto Lopez-Olmos, a Mexican citizen born in 1996, last Thursday and charged him with harboring the individuals.

He made a first appearance in front of a federal magistrate judge Monday morning.

The day prior to his arrest, Border Patrol received a tip that a small apartment complex in San Juan was being used to harbor people in the country illegally.

Agents set up surveillance of the apartments Thursday and watched as Lopez-Olmos left his apartment and later came back and delivered groceries to the adjacent residence, according to the criminal complaint.

“Moments later two subjects exited apartment #2 and left the residence in a vehicle. Agents followed the vehicle to a nearby store. Once the two subjects exited the store, Agents conducted a consensual encounter,” the complaint stated.

The agents said they determined the two individuals were in the country illegally, further stating that one of the men told Border Patrol about the apartment where people were being held and identified the caretaker as the man who lived in the adjacent residence.

“Later, agents observed Lopez exit apartment #1 and leave in a vehicle. Agents requested assistance from San Juan Police Department. A San Juan Police Officer located the vehicle and conducted a traffic stop due to unlawful dark tinted windows,” the complaint stated.

Agents say he was in the country illegally and that he told them he lived in one of the apartments and brought food to the people in the other apartment.

Police and Border Patrol then knocked on that apartment’s door and that all of the people freely came out and were detained.

“Lopez has lived in apartment #1 for four (4) months with his friends. Lopez agreed to buy groceries and go inside apartment #2 to deliver them. Lopez claims he has done this about three times and that he receives between $20 to $50 to buy the food,” the complaint stated.

A material witness in the case told Border Patrol that Lopez would provide food and tell people where to eat, sleep and wash clothes and that he took everyone’s phones at night and returned them in the morning, according to the complaint.

That witness and one other picked Lopez from a photo lineup and identified him as the caretaker, according to Border Patrol.

He is being temporarily held without bond pending probable cause and detention hearings scheduled for Thursday, court records show.