The Department of Justice announced on Tuesday that its Joint Task Force Alpha has dismantled a human smuggling organization near the Texas-Mexico border.
The anti-trafficking task force, which was formed by the Biden administration last year, launched an operation that it says led to the arrest of eight accused smugglers.
The smuggling organization was allegedly led by Erminia Serrano Piedra, 31, also known as “Irma” and “Boss Lady.”
An indictment unsealed on Tuesday claims that Piedra and her co-conspirators, who were arrested in various U.S. states, facilitated unlawful and forced transportation of migrants in the U.S. for profit.
Migrants from Mexico, Guatemala and Colombia allegedly paid the organization to illegally transport them into the U.S. without consenting to the “deplorable” conditions to which they were subjected while being trafficked.
“At DHS, countering human smuggling is a moral imperative, a law enforcement priority, and a necessity for our national security,” said Deputy Secretary John K. Tien of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which collaborates with the DOJ to run the joint task force.
“We are unwavering in our commitment, and sending a strong message: if you manipulate and imperil and take advantage of struggling migrants, we are coming for you.”
Additional defendants include Kevin Daniel Nuber, Laura Nuber, Lloyd Bexley, Jeremy Dickens, Katie Ann Garcia, Oliveria Piedra-Campuzana and Pedro Hairo Abrigo.
“The Justice Department will continue to bring our full resources to bear to combat the human smuggling and trafficking groups that endanger our communities, abuse and exploit migrants, and threaten our national security,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement on the the case.