COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A man in Pickaway County and his cousin from Texas have been charged with transporting illegal immigrants, primarily from Mexico, within the United States.
According to a release from the Department of Justice, Bromley D. Hackney, 57, of Ashville, Ohio, pleaded guilty Wednesday to one count of transportation of an immigrant within the United States. Hackney’s cousin, Robert G. Smith, 58, of Natalia, Texas, was also charged with the same crime and arrested this morning in Texas.
According to an affidavit, Hackney was using a semi-truck to move undocumented immigrants within the United States for profit.
In December 2016, Hackney was stopped at a Border Patrol checkpoint near Laredo, Texas and agents found four undocumented immigrants attempting to conceal themselves in hidden compartments in the cabin of the freight box truck. All of the individuals were taken into custody and later released.
Hackney agreed to be interviewed by investigators in Ohio in March 2017 and said he “knew that this day would come” and was going to go to a Border Patrol station soon to inquire about a possible investigation involving him. He admitted that he unlawfully transported immigrants, which he and Smith began to do during the year 2011.
Smith, who was interviewed in June 2017, told investigators he would receive calls from a subject using the alias “Skinny” who would give him instructions on where to pick up the illegal immigrants to be unlawfully transported. Smith would then contact others to arrange some of the transports, which he did approximately four times per week. He earned at least $2,000 per week coordinating the transactions.
Smith unlawfully transported immigrants at least 72 times from 2011 through 2016 and transported four individuals each time. At first, he charged $800 per person and after the first two years increased the cost to $1,000 per person. The total amount of proceeds from the offense was nearly $269,000.
Transportation of an undocumented immigrant within the United States is a federal crime punishable by up to five years in prison.