Mission security guard indicted in Anzalduas Park smuggling case

Immigrant children play while being housed in tents at Anzalduas Park on Thursday, Aug 5, 2021, in Mission. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])

A security guard working at Anzalduas Park was indicted April 5 for his role in attempting to smuggle a person illegally present in the United States, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Mission resident Ernesto Gaona-Gonzalez, 59, was arrested last Wednesday and appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Nadia S. Medrano on Tuesday who found him to be a danger to the community and a flight risk.

She ordered him to remain in custody pending further criminal proceedings.

Gaona pleaded not guilty to the human smuggling charge.

The release states that Gaona allegedly attempted to transport a person illegally present in the country using a motor vehicle through Mission.

The court heard Tuesday that on Sept. 4, 2022, Gaona allegedly held a woman against her will and contacted a friend for money in exchange for her release.

“If convicted, Gaona faces up to five years in prison and a maximum $250,000 fine,” the release said.

A final pretrial conference for Gaona is set for early June followed by jury selection.