Charges dropped against human trafficking suspect

ROSWELL, N.M. – Prosecutors have dismissed multiple human trafficking charges against a Las Cruces man pending further investigation.

The Office of the District Attorney for New Mexico’s Fifth Judicial District Court says they dismissed the seven counts of trafficking against Jose Pina, 53, though the charges could be refiled at a later date.

Pina was charged with the seven counts February 12 when the van he was driving into Roswell was pulled over for speeding. He was subsequently arrested.

When the deputies approached the vehicle, they found seven passengers in the van with Pina, including two who were laying on the ground in the back of the van where the vehicle’s back seats were removed. A seventh passenger, a woman, was sitting in the front seat.

All seven passengers were later found to be Mexican immigrants in the U.S. illegally. Later when interviewed by deputies, it was learned that Pina allegedly would transport them from an unknown residence to several farms, ranches and other properties where they would work long hours for minimal pay.

Pina at the time told deputies that at the time he was taking the seven passengers from a location in the Carlsbad area to a ranch in Socorro County.

During the stop, Pina was also charged with speeding, driving with a suspended license; driving with an open container of alcohol and possession of a controlled substance. Those counts were not dropped.

Because the human trafficking charges were dropped, Pina’s initial $25,000 bondwas reduced to $2,500.