FBI Presses Charges in Migrant Smuggling Scheme

(VitalNews.org) – In March, a group of migrants was kidnapped after a shootout outside of Houston, Texas, resulting in a fatal shooting by FBI agents of a suspect at a hotel. Eight more people now face federal charges connected with the incident.

The abductions took place during a mission to smuggle migrants over the border but soon turned into a kidnapping situation in the middle of a gun battle on an interstate highway west of Houston. Three of the migrants suffered gunshot wounds while three others were taken by the smugglers, tortured, and held up for ransom for five days.

The hostage situation in March culminated in one suspect being shot by federal agents at a Houston hotel while another was taken into custody. An FBI agent clarified that Alberto Montes II, 20, was shot and killed after he exited the hotel room with a gun in hand.

Although eight more are now facing charges in connection to the smuggling operation, only six are in custody while two of them remain at large. According to U.S. Attorney Alamdar Hamdani, the two suspects are dangerous and the FBI is putting up a $5,000 award for any new information that could help bring them into custody. The two suspects at large are 26-year-old Santiago Hernandez and 25-year-old Lorie Lin Flowers.

Prior to the latest federal indictments, state authorities arrested two teenagers for allegedly taking part in the kidnappings, and more details about the scheme resulting in two families paying ransom money to the kidnappers were released during a Tuesday press conference.

Hamdani warned migrants not to put their lives in the hands of human smugglers, stating that their families “will lose all their money, or worse, they will lose you.” Human trafficking is only one of the many problems worsening along the U.S.-Mexico border as a result of the migration crisis.

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