ICE teams up with Guatemala police to bust 10 suspected human smugglers linked to 19 murders

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Just over a year after 19 people were stopped, shot and burned on their way to the U.S. in an attack blamed on Mexican police, Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced Monday the arrests of 10 Guatemalan nationals accused of organizing the human smuggling attempt.

The suspects allegedly set up multiple similar operations – but the failed attempt resulted in a bloody massacre south of the border that left five children among the dead.

ICE and Homeland Security Investigations officers handled the case along with the Guatemalan National Police and the country’s special prosecutor for illicit migrant trafficking.

David Coronado Perez, who is allegedly part of a human trafficking network, is escorted by an officer at the end of his court hearing, in Guatemala City, Friday, Feb. 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Oliver de Ros)

David Coronado Perez, who is allegedly part of a human trafficking network, is escorted by an officer at the end of his court hearing, in Guatemala City, Friday, Feb. 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Oliver de Ros)

ICE AGENTS FORCED TO COORDINATE TRAVEL FOR ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS

Carlos Gamarra, the HSI’s acting regional attaché for the Northern Triangle, said the arrests broke up a “major human smuggling organization.”

“Hopefully, the results of these high-level arrests can bring some justice to the victims’ families,” he said in a statement. 

The 10 suspects face charges including human smuggling, money laundering and obstruction of justice.

In January 2021, 19 people, 16 of them from Guatemala, were murdered in Mexico on their way to the U.S., according to authorities. They had been shot, then burned in Camargo, near the border with Texas. Five were minors.

Men who are allegedly part of a human trafficking network wait for a hearing to begin in the courts of justice in Guatemala City, Friday, Feb. 4, 2022.  (AP Photo/Oliver de Ros)

Men who are allegedly part of a human trafficking network wait for a hearing to begin in the courts of justice in Guatemala City, Friday, Feb. 4, 2022.  (AP Photo/Oliver de Ros)

FOX NEWS FOOTAGE SHOWS MASS RELEASE OF SINGLE ADULT MIGRANTS INTO US

Shortly after the attack, Mexico authorities charged a dozen local police officers in connection with the migrants’ deaths.

But the massacre also kicked off an investigation into the smuggling organization.

At least one of the victims was a suspected smuggler believed to be the group’s guide, Adan Coronado. He was the son of the operation’s alleged ringleader, David Coronado Perez, and the nephew of another arrested suspect, Ramiro Coronado, according to authorities.

On Jan. 28, 2022, investigators served 19 search warrants and arrested the 10 suspects, including the Coronado brothers. They said they seized a sum of more than $200,000 in various currencies, five vehicles, dozens of illegal gambling machines and electronics – as well as a single firearm.

Juan Miranda, who is allegedly part of a human trafficking network, returns to his place after questioning in the courts of justice in Guatemala City, Friday, Feb. 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Oliver de Ros)

Juan Miranda, who is allegedly part of a human trafficking network, returns to his place after questioning in the courts of justice in Guatemala City, Friday, Feb. 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Oliver de Ros)

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The suspects appeared in court in Guatemala City last Friday.

ICE asks anyone who suspects human smuggling to report it to their local authorities or to the feds anonymously online at ice.gov/tipline or by phone at 866-347-2423.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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