Human smuggling operation uncovered in Albuquerque
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Federal investigators made another sickening discovery, confirming a second human smuggling operation in Albuquerque in just three weeks.
With help from Albuquerque police, Homeland Security Agents said they rescued 48 undocumented non-citizens at an apartment complex near Central and Louisiana, as well as 10 undocumented non-citizens and three kidnapping victims from a commercial parking lot off I-40.
Bryan Carr—who lives near the apartment on Palomas Dr.—told KOB he moved to the southeast neighborhood a week ago, and has already fallen victim to multiple crimes.
“My house has been broken into, lost stuff- packages off the porch, and then Homeland Security and every SWAT officer on the planet were here just the other day,” Carr said.
During HSI’s investigation Friday, special agents said they also arrested two suspects – 32-year-old Marcelo Alonso-Almaraz, and 35-year-old Eloisa Almaraz-Vasquez, both undocumented non-citizens from Mexico— and charged them with human smuggling and hostage taking.
“That’s completely surprising,” Carr told KOB. “I only ever saw more than the same four people, I think, the first four or five days I was here. I never saw that kind of volume of people anywhere.”
Carr said he watched federal agents teams come and go, but only learned what really happened Wednesday morning. He does believe he may have seen the kidnapping victims at one point—a mother and her two young daughters, ages 5 and 9.
“Just looked like normal coming and going during the day-type family,” he said. “I wouldn’t even have thought twice about the situation they were in at all.”
HSI cited court documents that said a woman in Arizona paid $30,000 to have her sister and two nieces smuggled into the United States from Guatemala. The smugglers then demanded an extra $6,000 for their release.
“I didn’t notice anything to set me off to think there was some sort of hazard danger nearby, let alone people that were kidnapped and being trafficked for God’s sake,” Carr said.
Federal agents said their search for the kidnapping victims is what led them to the dozens of other migrants from Mexico and Guatemala, as well as nearly $47,000 in cash, ledgers, a gun and a loaded magazine.
“I’ve been all over the world,” Carr said. “But it just makes to be far more aware of what’s going on, that’s for sure.”
Federal investigators were unavailable Wednesday to give further comment on this case and the case from three weeks ago, where agents found 29 migrants in poor living conditions on Albuquerque’s west side. Officials did confirm human smuggling is a growing problem in the metro area.