Texas crime victims liaison pleads guilty to human smuggling with county vehicle

A Texas crime victims coordinator who was employed by the Starr County District Attorney’s Office has pleaded guilty to using a county vehicle to smuggle immigrants into the United States.

Bernice Garza pleaded guilty Friday to conspiracy to transport undocumented people within the United States, according to a report from KRGV.

Two others, Magali Rosa and Juan Antonio Charles, were also arrested in connection with the investigation and have pleaded guilty to human smuggling charges, according to the report.

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Garza was arrested in December 2022 after a traffic stop in Victoria County noted that the vehicle registered with the county was making “numerous unauthorized trips to the Houston area,” the criminal complaint said.

Magali Rosa was the driver of the vehicle, according to police, while Garza and Charles were among the passengers in the vehicle.

Police say Rosa tried to argue that Garza was the Starr County district attorney during the stop, though she later confessed to making over 40 smuggling trips from Rio Grande City to Houston in the government vehicle.

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“This investigation is an example of no one being above the law, and our office taking swift action in eliminating public corruption,” the DA’s office said in a statement after the arrests.

Garza was soon terminated from the DA’s office, while the four migrants who were in the vehicle at the time of the stop were turned over to the U.S. Border Patrol.

Sentencing for Garza and Charles was set for Sept. 28, the reporting notes, while sentencing for Magali Rosa is set for June 27.

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