A Florida woman has admitted trying to drive three people from a border crossing in northern Montana to Florida in September, although the three were in the U.S. illegally.
Lucia Marlene Mendez, 34, of Tampa, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Great Falls to attempted transportation of an illegal alien on Thursday. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
Mendez was pulled over around 4:15 a.m. on Sept. 8, 2019, in the town of Sweetgrass, which sits on the Montana border with Canada.
The black 2018 Dodge Caravan Mendez was driving was a rental car with Florida license plates, and was described as “suspicious,” a U.S. Border Patrol Agent wrote in an affidavit. A second Border Patrol agent had just apprehended the three Mexican nationals one block away, and he said the three told him they were being picked up.
Mendez was paid $1,000 for gas and hotels for the trip from Florida to Montana and back, and was to be paid another $600 for making the trip, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The three Mexican nationals Mendez was picking up were to have an unspecified amount of money for her as well.
Defense attorney R. Hank Branom did not immediately return a request for comment.
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