{{featured_button_text}}
Law

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.

Sentencing is set for May.

Be the first to know

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

On Wednesday, a 39-year-old Mexican national pleaded guilty to illegally re-entering the U.S. through Canada. Ma Mercedes Rivera-Gutierrez had been removed from the U.S. three time before, in 2001, 2007 and 2012, and was part of a group of 19 people arrested in Cut Bank in November and taken to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection station in Sunburst. 


Courts and crime reporter Phoebe Tollefson's top 5 stories from 2019

Gazette crime and courts reporter Phoebe Tollefson shares her five most memorable stories of 2019.

Below are five meaningful crime and courts stories from 2019.

Two friends who opened a women’s sober living home in April gave us one of our rare but welcome “good” news stories.

Prison no doubt left its mark on Jimmy Ray Bromgard, who was wrongly incarcerated for nearly 15 years. Still, he finds a way to laugh often, at least when this reporter was in town.

After nearly 21 years, a victim's family got its day in court in one of the area’s most well-known cold cases, and a packed gallery heard the remarkable story of a woman who fought through and survived an attack by Zachary O’Neill roughly two months before.

The family of a man who died after a series of seizures inside the Cascade County Detention Center was paid $1 million in a wrongful death claim, settled outside of court.

Finally, we heard from some landlords whose tenants check boxes on the FBI’s criteria for commercial sex operations. The goal of the reporting was to let landlords respond to concerns by law enforcement and activists that the rent-paying businesses exploit vulnerable workers. 

Sign up for our Crime & Courts newsletter

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.
0
0
0
0
0