Pickaway County man pleads guilty to transporting illegal aliens from Mexico

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COLUMBUS – Two cousins have each been charged in the Southern District of Ohio with unlawfully transporting illegal aliens, primarily Mexican citizens, within the United States.

Bromley D. Hackney, 57, of Ashville, Ohio, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court Wednesday to one count of transportation of an alien within the United States. Robert G. Smith, 58, of Natalia, Texas, was charged by criminal complaint with the same crime and arrested in Texas.

The charges were announced, and the plea entered into before U.S. District Judge Michael H. Watson.

According to an affidavit filed in support of the Criminal Complaint charging Smith, in October 2016, U.S. Homeland Security Investigations agents received information from the Ohio State Highway Patrol regarding the suspected unlawful transportation of aliens. The source alleged that Hackney was using a semi-truck to move undocumented aliens within the United States for profit.

In December 2016, Hackney was stopped at a Border Patrol checkpoint near Laredo, Texas and agents found four undocumented aliens attempting to conceal themselves in hidden compartments in the cabin of the freight box truck. All of the individuals were taken into custody and later released.

Hackney agreed to be interviewed by investigators in Ohio in March 2017 and said he “knew that this day would come” and was going to go to a Border Patrol station soon to inquire about a possible investigation involving him. He admitted that he unlawfully transported aliens, which he and Smith began in 2011.

Smith, who was interviewed in June 2017, told investigators he would receive calls from “Skinny” with instructions on where to pick up the illegal aliens. Smith would then contact others to arrange transports, which he did approximately four times per week. He earned at least $2,000 per week coordinating the transactions.

Smith unlawfully transported aliens at least 72 times from 2011 through 2016 and transported four individuals each time. At first, he charged $800 per person and after the first two years increased the cost to $1,000 per person. The total amount of proceeds from the offense was nearly $269,000.

Transportation of an alien within the United States is a federal crime punishable by up to five years in prison.

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