TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Florida Highway Patrol arrested a Texas couple suspected of human smuggling while on the way to Clearwater, a trooper said.
The FHP said 38-year-old Bernardo Estrada-Martinez from Texas was driving the vehicle when deputies pulled him and his wife Maribel Estrada-Mendoza over for an illegal window tint on I-75 SB in Bushnell.
According to FHP, seven other people inside the car appeared to be disheveled after deputies pulled over the vehicle.
When speaking to troopers, Estrada-Martinez originally told officials he was driving family members. When he could not name four of the car’s passengers, he admitted that he was paid $80 per person for gas money and that all four passengers were in the United States illegally.
US Border Patrol agents said all four men had been previously deported, some as recently as the beginning of March.
Estrada-Mendoza told troopers she knew the four men were in the United States illegally and that her husband was being paid an unknown amount for their transport.
Both Estrada-Mendoza and Estrada-Martinez were taken to the Sumter County Jail.