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Old 05-20-2003, 03:33 PM
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Default Judge denies bond to trucker held in deaths of 19 illegal immigrants

May 20, 2003

Judge denies bond to trucker held in deaths of 19 illegal immigrants
Associated Press

A federal judge in Houston today refused to grant bond to the trucker
accused of transporting illegal aliens in what authorities are calling the
nation's most deadly smuggling operation.

Tyrone Williams, 32, of Schenectady, N.Y., was arrested May 14 in Houston,
hours after 17 people were found dead in and around a trailer at a truck
stop near Victoria, about 100 miles southeast of Houston. Two people later
died after being hospitalized.

"There is a serious risk that you would leave," U.S. Magistrate Mary
Milloy said, denying bond after hearing brief testimony today.

She said Williams, a native of Jamaica, was not a U.S. citizen, had no
ties to the area and would remain in custody until the case is resolved.

Williams is one of four people arrested. Warrants have been issued for at
least two others and federal prosecutors said they expected additional
arrests.

One of the four in custody told authorities she was paid $1,000 to
accompany Williams from Ohio to Texas, a federal agent testified today.

Fatima Holloway, arrested in Cleveland, also told Jeffrey Hudson, an agent
in the anti-smuggling unit of the Bureau of Immigration and Customs
Enforcement, that Williams told her this wasn't the first smuggling run he
had made.

"He (Williams) told her: 'Don't worry. I've done this before,'" Hudson
testified at the bond hearing for Williams.

Williams told authorities two men were to pay him $5,000 to transport the
illegal immigrants from the Mexican border to Houston, according to court
documents. He told authorities after discovering the dead and dying
immigrants, he unhitched the trailer and drove to Houston.

Hudson, however, describing his conversation with Holloway, told a
different story, saying she agreed May 10 to accept the $1,000 to
accompany Williams and ensure the driver delivered $15,000 to an
unidentified person.

Holloway told the agent she became concerned when she and Williams, after
delivering a milk shipment from Cleveland to San Antonio, met with four
men, who Williams described as "his boys," in Harlingen, about 230 miles
to the south and near the Texas-Mexico border. One of the men, who was
armed, said he was a gang member and was "hot," which Hudson said meant he
was wanted by authorities.

Holloway told agents it appeared obvious Williams knew all of the men.

"She was worried at that point. She had gotten herself into something
criminal, but she didn't know what," Hudson said. "He said: 'We're going
to pick up some people and drive them somewhere.'"

Escorted by a "rabbit truck" into a wooded area, they picked up the some
70 people, who climbed into the trailer, and headed back north, reaching a
government checkpoint at Sarita, 100 miles north of the border, about
11:30 p.m.

Hudson said Holloway told him Williams was angry at her because she was
nervous, and ordered her to be quiet when a border patrol agent at the
traffic stop questioned them. Williams described her as his girlfriend and
when asked what he was hauling, replied: "I'm empty."

The truck was waved through.

According to Holloway, Williams stopped the truck before reaching Victoria
after a motorist got his attention and pointed to the trailer, indicating
something apparently was wrong.

Returning to the cab after inspecting the trailer, she said Williams made
a call on his cell phone, screaming: "These people are tearing up my
truck! How many people did you put in my truck?"

Holloway said she became frantic but was ordered by Williams to remain
quiet. At that point, Hudson said Holloway noted that since they had left
Harlingen, she had not heard the hum of the refrigerator in the trailer.

Williams and Holloway later stopped at a truck stop to purchase water, but
she said Williams went to the trailer without the water, returned to the
cab and asked her: "What does El Nino mean?" He said a woman in the
trailer was screaming "El Nino."

Holloway said she wasn't sure, but thought it meant a storm.

She said Williams made another telephone call and complained there were
four holes in the doors of his trailer where insulation had been torn
away.

"They're sticking their arms out of the holes in the trailer," he spoke
into the phone. Holloway said Williams turned to her and said: "I've got
to dump this trailer."

Hudson said authorities had photos of Williams' truck, with the saying
"Wild Child" painted on the side of the cab, at the checkpoint. They also
had photos of Williams and Holloway buying water at the Victoria truck
stop, unhitching the trailer and leaving.

Holloway said Williams called someone to tell them the location of the
trailer.

Two others, Juan Cisneros, 22, and his girlfriend Erica Cardenas, 23, were
arrested Thursday in McAllen by undercover officers after trying to extort
between $1,300 and $1,500 for the return of a 3-year-old boy, whose mother
was one of the immigrants in the trailer.

Cisneros, Cardenas and Holloway are charged with one count of
transporting, harboring and conspiring to transport illegal immigrants. No
details were released about their hometowns.


A Brownsville couple, Victor Rodriguez, 55, and Emma Rodriguez, 57, were
being sought on similar charges for housing the immigrants before
transporting and then loading them into the trailer.

The death toll exceeded by one the 18 immigrants who died in a rail car in
West Texas in 1987.

According to an affidavit by an immigration agent released Monday,
Cisneros told authorities that he worked for Victor Rodriguez, had
smuggled immigrants for him on at least one prior occasion and was trying
to get money for the boy on his orders.

The boy has since been returned to his mother, who is among 54 survivors
in custody of immigration agents in Houston.

Authorities were still trying to identify six bodies. The immigrants
packed in the trailer were from Mexico, Central America and the Dominican
Republic.

--------

Source : Associated Press
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