San Salvador, El Salvador - Two suspected Salvadoran human smugglers were arrested Tuesday for their alleged involvment in attempting to smuggle unaccompanied children into the United States. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents from the HSI Assistant Attaché Office in El Salvador assisted police officers from the Salvadoran National Civil Police who made the arrests.
Rene Jonathan Hernandez Gomez, 23, and Rubia Benavide, 65, both of El Salvador, are charged with attempting to smuggle unaccompanied minors for profit.
A 3- and 9-year-old were rescued and turned over to Salvadoran child welfare services. The children are unrelated to the smugglers and were unaccompanied.
Additionally, special agents and officers seized $1,700 in U.S. currency, one vehicle, five cell phones and two passports.
Attorneys with the Salvadoran Attorney General’s office are participating in the investigation and handling the prosecution of the cases.
“It’s heart wrenching to have found an unaccompanied 3-year-old baby who was going to be smuggled into the United States,” said Alvin De la Rosa, HSI assistant attaché to El Salvador. “We urge parents not to put their children in the hands of ruthless smugglers who have no regard for human life. The vast majority of individuals illegally entering the U.S. after January 2015 will be returned to their home country.”
Through ICE's Office of International Affairs and the U.S. Department of State, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) has 67 attaché offices in 48 countries around the world. HSI special agents work closely with foreign law enforcement agencies and through a robust network of specialized, vetted units known as Transnational Criminal Investigative Units.