A Texas woman is facing a human smuggling charge after she called 911 to report a burglary at her home. Police discovered the man she claimed was breaking into her house, was part of an illegal immigrant human smuggling operation and was actually trying to break out.
Round Rock Police said Mariana Salgado, 48, was arrested and charged with a third-degree felony of smuggling of persons after officers responded to the June 22 burglary call. When officers arrived on the scene, interviews were conducted that revealed the Honduran man accused of burglary by Salgado was part of a human smuggling/trafficking operation and had been forced to live at the home while he paid off a debt.
The debt, $9,200, was the fee Salgado charged the man for travel arrangements from Mexico to Texas. The man had entered Mexico from Honduras, the affidavit said, “out of fear of being harmed.”
According to arrest documents, the man was brought to Round Rock, Texas, with an agreement that he was not allowed to leave Salgado’s home until the debt was paid in full. The man’s girlfriend, who resides in New Jersey, had been making payments on his behalf totaling around $5,000.
In order to pay off the debt, the man was allowed to help a friend of Salgado install cabinets at new-build homes, the affidavit said. The man was never paid directly, however. His money, $120 per day, was given to a member of Salgado’s family to pay the debt, the affidavit said.
There were others being smuggled into the home who were also paying debts in order to leave, the affidavit said. They were charged the same amount ($9,200) as Salgado paid the fees upfront for them to the “coyote” to bring them into the country, the affidavit said. Money made through a catering business allowed Salgado to pay the fees, the affidavit said.
The man had previously tried to escape Salgado’s home, but was found nearby and was forced into a car by people who worked for her and returned to the home.
Police said Salgado gave the man’s identification documents to officers at their request, because she was holding them as collateral, the affidavit said.
While searching the home, officers found a spiral notebook with a ledger that tracked amounts owed by the man and others in the home, the affidavit said.
Homeland Security confirmed to police the man entered the U.S. without legal permission, and he was moved to temporary housing, the affidavit said.
According to records, Salgado is currently in Williamson County Jail. There’s not an attorney listed to represent her. Once we are aware of who is representing her, we will reach out for comment.