HARRISON COUNTY, Texas (KETK) – A major human smuggling network, allegedly lead by Erminia Serrano, also known as The Boss Lady, was taken down as part of a joint task force according to a statement released Tuesday from the United States Department of Justice (DOJ).

See indictment below

Harrison County Sheriff’s office was among a list of law enforcement agencies the DOJ attributed as giving substantial assistance toward the investigation that led to the eight indictments.

The operation, a part of Joint Task Force Alpha (JTFA), included the arrest of eight alleged human smugglers whose indictments were unsealed today in the Southern District of Texas (SDTX).

Erminia Serrano Piedra aka Irma, and Boss Lady, 31, is accused of leading the human smuggling operation. Other defendants include Kevin Daniel Nuber aka Captain, 41; Laura Nuber aka Barbie, 40; Lloyd Bexley, 51; Jeremy Dickens, 45; Katie Ann Garcia aka Guera, 39; Oliveria Piedra-Campuzana, 53; and Pedro Hairo Abrigo, 33. All were arrested in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama pursuant to charges previously filed in the SDTX and unsealed Tuesday.

“Over a year ago, we launched Joint Task Force Alpha to strengthen our efforts across government to dismantle the most dangerous human smuggling and trafficking networks,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland.

According to the indictment, they facilitated the unlawful transportation and movement of migrants within the United States in deplorable conditions for profit. The migrants or their families allegedly paid members of the human smuggling organization to help them travel illegally to and within the United States. Drivers for the organization were allegedly paid as much as $2,500 for each migrant they unlawfully transported.

The indictments indicate various methods were used to transport migrants, including hiding them in suitcases placed in pickup trucks; hiding them in the back of tractor-trailers; concealing them in covered beds of pick-up trucks; concealing them in empty water tankers; and putting them in empty boxes that were strapped to flatbed trailers.

The methods used to transport and move migrants placed them in danger, as they were frequently held in
contained spaces with little ventilation, which became overheated, and they were driven at high
speeds with no vehicle safety devices, said officials.

The indictments also notes the forfeiture of three properties, allegedly used as ‘stash’ houses, and money amounting to over $2 million dollars.

Stay up-to-date with the latest local news, sports, weather, politics and more using the KETK mobile app.