Former Starr County DA’s employee pleads guilty to human smuggling

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Bernice Annette Garza

The Starr County District Attorney’s Office’s former crime victims coordinator pleaded guilty Friday to her role in a human smuggling operation that used a government vehicle.

Bernice Annette Garza admitted to the first count in the indictment: conspiracy to transport people in the country illegally within the United States.

Authorities arrested Garza on Dec. 7, 2022 following a traffic stop near Victoria, where deputies found four people in the country illegally inside a DA’s vehicle.

Three other people have been charged in the case, including Juan Antonio Charles, Mari Cruz Rosa and Magali Rosa, who have all pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing. Following her arrest, Garza confessed and said “that they had made over forty (40) trips to transport undocumented aliens from the Rio Grande City, TX area to the Houston, TX, area,” the criminal complaint stated.

The scheme to smuggle people in the DA’s office spanned from June 1, 2022 to Dec. 7, 2022.

She is scheduled for sentencing in late September.