19-Year-Old Admits Smuggling Migrants Through Northern Westchester, Threatening Them

A 19-year-old man faces years in prison after he was caught trafficking migrants in Northern Westchester, federal officials said.



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Mario Elpidio Chavez Millan of Albuquerque, New Mexico, pleaded guilty to charges connected to his smuggling of people who illegally entered the United States as well as his participation in a kidnapping scheme, the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York announced on Tuesday, May 7. 

According to federal officials, on July 10, 2023, New York State Police in Cortlandt received a report from a person who said their relative had entered the country illegally with the help of criminals known as "coyotes" and was being transported by a man in the US working with them, later identified as Chavez Millan. 

The complainant also told police that Chavez Millan had told the victim he would not release him unless they or their family paid him $1,000 in addition to the funds already paid to the "coyotes," officials said. 

Later that evening, state police pulled over Chavez Millan's vehicle in Cortlandt and found five other people in the car. After his passengers, including the complainant's relative, were brought to police barracks, they told authorities they had illegally entered the US and were being driven by Chavez Millan from New Mexico to other states in the country, according to federal officials.

Officials added that several of these passengers said Chavez Millan had threatened them during the drive by telling them they could not leave without paying him an additional $1,000. He had also allegedly added that he had previously killed someone for running away without paying.

Chavez Millan pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to transport aliens throughout the US. He faces a maximum of a decade in prison when he is sentenced on Wednesday, Aug. 7.

In a statement regarding the case, US Attorney Damian Williams condemned Chavez Millan's actions.

"Mario Elpidio Chavez Millan and others like him are an integral cog in the human trafficking machine that preys on people who attempt to enter the United States through its southern border each year," Williams said, adding, The services that Chavez offers are what make it possible for coyotes, the cartels, and others to smuggle people throughout the country, often times for large fees." 

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