Officials from Texas traveled to Iowa today to announce a 27 count indictment against three men who are believed to be behind the deaths of 11 illegal immigrants found in a rail car in Denison last October. Michael Shelby, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas, says the indictment alleges the three individuals — and others yet to be named, smuggled and transported into and throughout the U.S. a number of illegal aliens, including the 11 that died. Shelby says the illegal aliens and their families were charged from $1000 to $3000 per individual smuggled into the U.S. He says the indictment alleges they smuggled the aliens for money. Speaking in the Des Moines railyard where the 11 bodies were taken for identification last year, Shelby says their fateful journey started in Southern Texas. He says they would go into Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador and recruit people who wanted to get into the U.S. They would take them across the Rio Grande river into Harlingen, Texas to safe houses. He says they are charging a fourth man who worked for the Union Pacific Railway and gave them train schedules used to smuggle the aliens into the U.S. He says the goal was to bypass a checkpoint 70 miles north of the U.S./Mexican border. He says anyone who bypasses that checkpoint can successfully get into the U.S. illegally. Shelby says this operation had been going on since 1998. He says it’s a case of greed, and they viewed the loss of life as a cost of doing business. Shelby says state, county and federal law officers spent thousands of hours going through records and trying to track down family members to identify the 11 dead and track down the smugglers. Shelby says two of the men are in custody and the search is on for the other two. He says all four face the death penalty if convicted, and the U.S. Attorneys Office is going after their assets.
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