Border Soldiers Charged with Illegal Alien Smuggling

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LAREDO, Texas (AP) - Three National Guard soldiers have been indicted on five counts of human smuggling and one count of conspiracy to transport undocumented immigrants.

They are accused of running an immigrant smuggling operation through a Laredo-area checkpoint.

Federal authorities say Sergeant Julio Cesar Pacheco, Sergeant Clarence Hodge Junior and Private First Class Jose Rodrigo Torres were involved.

They allegedly used cell phone text messages to coordinate transporting van loads of illegal immigrants.

Tuesday's indictment alleges the defendants made seven successful smuggling trips, transporting 88 undocumented immigrants over 22 days in May and June.

The guardsmen remain in federal custody on bonds of $75,000.

They had been participating in Operation Jump Start, a border security initiative.