A Mexican man accused of helping seven people cross into Maine from Canada illegally has been charged in U.S. District Court in Bangor with bringing in and harboring aliens.
Margarito Lucero-Luis, 45, whose hometown is not listed in court documents, was driving a rented black 2019 Chevy Tahoe in Bridgewater about 10 p.m. Tuesday when he was stopped by Maine State Police because troopers suspected he was intoxicated, according to the affidavit.
U.S. Border Patrol was called in to assist in translating since none of the people spoke English well or had proper documentation to be in the country. The passengers told agents that they came to the U.S. in hopes of finding jobs.
Lucero-Luis, who allegedly crossed the center line four times, had a valid Connecticut driver’s license. He told investigators that he had been in the U.S. for 25 years and lived in New York City but did not have a passport or immigration documents, the affidavit said.
All of the passengers in the SUV denied paying Lucero-Luis to pick them up and transport them out of state. Luis-Lucero allegedly admitted that he was paid $1,000 to pick them up and take them to New York City.
A search of Lucero-Luis phone showed text messages to and from “Master 33” about where and when he should pick up his passengers, according to the affidavit. It gave a location near East Ridge Road in Mars Hill.
On Wednesday, investigators went to that location, described as “very rural with minimal traffic” in the affidavit. Agents found multiple shoe prints on a remote path at the U.S.-Canadan border that emerged onto East Ridge Road in Mars Hill. They matched them to the shoes the SUV passengers were wearing, the affidavit said.
In addition to the driver all the passengers were charged in federal court in Bangor. Three were charged with entering the country illegally and four were charged with re-entering the country after being removed for illegal enter.
All the defendants have made their first court appearances and are being held without bail.
If convicted, Lucero-Luis faces up to five years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
Entering the U.S. illegally is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. Those charged with re-entry after removal face up to two years in prison and a fine up to $250,000 if found guilty.
All face deportation if convicted.