Former ‘Crime Victim Coordinator’ Pleads Guilty to Human Smuggling Charge, Used County Vehicle for the Crime

Former ‘Crime Victim Coordinator’ Pleads Guilty to Human Smuggling Charge, Used County Vehicle for the Crime

A former crime victim coordinator for a Texas district attorney has pleaded guilty to smuggling illegal immigrants across the Texas-Mexico border.

Bernice Annette Garza, formerly of the Starr County District Attorney’s Office, pleaded guilty Friday to a charge of conspiring to transport people in the country illegally, according to KURV-TV.

Garza was arrested on Dec. 7, 2022, when her county vehicle was stopped and found to have four illegal immigrants inside.

Garza later admitted she had used the vehicle more than 40 times in six months to bring illegal immigrants to Houston, KURV reported.

Magaly Rosa, who was also arrested with her husband, Juan Antonio Charles, said Garza had recruited her to join the operation, in which Garza produced fake court papers that said the illegal immigrants were crime victims, according to the San Antonio Express-News.

Rosa and her husband would keep the illegal immigrants at their home, buy them clothes and feed them, and then join Garza for the trip to Houston, according to a criminal complaint, the Express-News reported.

Charles and Rosa previously pleaded guilty to a human smuggling charge, according to KRGV-TV.

At the time of Garza’s arrest, officials said they were suspicious because the Starr County District Attorney’s Office vehicle kept making “numerous unauthorized trips to the Houston area.”

Rosa was identified as the driver of the vehicle that had Garza and Charles among the other passengers.

Rosa told the arresting officer during the traffic stop that Garza was the Starr County district attorney, according to the criminal complaint.

According to a December report in the Express-News, the Dec. 7 traffic stop was initiated in Victoria County, Texas, because of the tinted windows on the van.

However, according to the newspaper, a criminal complaint stated that Victoria County deputies “had previously received information that this vehicle was making numerous unauthorized trips to the Houston area and was suspected of being involved in some type of criminal activity on these trips.”

Rosa told investigators that Garza had used the van and her sheriff’s office identification to get the van’s occupants past a checkpoint.

She also lent the couple the vehicle.

“Garza gave Rosa the vehicle and a DA’s badge, usually prominently displayed on the driver’s sun visor, and fraudulent court papers naming the immigrants as crime victims, Rosa alleged to investigators,” the Express-News report stated.

Sentencing for Rosa, Charles and another person who pleaded guilty in the case is set for June, according to KRGV.

Garza’s sentencing is set for September.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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