SAN DIEGO – A man living in the Mexican city of Tijuana and three of his children, who reside in California, were charged on Friday with running an organization dedicated to trafficking people across the southern border of the United States.
Luis Antonio Mendez-Brahan and his three adult children – Christopher Mendez, Wendy Monserrat Mendez and Nancy Jacqueline Suarez – face charges for smuggling illegal immigrants across the border for profit, among others, the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California said in a statement.
The father, who faces five additional charges, allegedly smuggled hundreds of illegal aliens into the US for almost a decade, according to the attorney’s office.
For every immigrant Mendez-Brahan smuggled into the US, he charged between $7,000-$8,000, according to the indictment.
Mendez-Brahan, 55, is still wanted by authorities, while his children were arrested on Wednesday in their homes in Wasco and Madera, California.
The accused allegedly used family members in Mexico and the US to send and receive the proceeds of the transactions via money transfer services such as Western Union and Money Gram.
The attorney’s office said that Border Patrol investigators tracked financial transactions conducted by Mendez-Brahan’s children in the United States to money transfer services located in Tijuana and, ultimately, to their father.
The three defendants made an appearance in federal court on Friday, where formal charges were pressed against them, for which they could receive sentences of up to five years in prison if found guilty.