PORT CLINTON, Ohio (WJW) – U.S. Border Patrol agents say a traffic stop on the Ohio Turnpike, led to the discovery of a human trafficking ring and the arrest of a suspect who has a long history of ignoring U.S. immigration laws.
The story began to unfold on Saturday morning when a trooper with the Ohio State Highway Patrol pulled over a minivan on the turnpike near Port Clinton after noticing a crack in the windshield.
According to a Border Patrol report, the trooper discovered there were eleven passengers in the minivan that has seating for seven.
After speaking with the driver, a citizen of Mexico, the trooper contacted Border Patrol agents, who responded to the scene.
A search revealed that the driver had a large amount of cash in his clothes and his wallet.
While speaking with the passengers, agents learned that they crossed the border from Mexico into the U.S. illegally.
According to the report, the passengers or their family members then paid the driver to transport them from New Mexico to states that include Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina and Florida.
Border Patrol agents say after they arrested the human trafficking suspect, they discovered that since 2006, he has been detained and removed from the U.S. 40 times.
Federal authorities say if not for the actions of the trooper on the turnpike, the suspect might have succeeded in smuggling the passengers to the destinations they paid him to reach.
The driver, who has not yet been identified, is now facing federal charges related to human smuggling.
The passengers are being detained and will eventually be returned to Mexico.