The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Women remain in custody for 'stash house' involvement


August 22, 2018

CLOVIS — Two women arrested this month for their involvement with a Clovis “stash house” for illegal immigrants will remain in custody following a detention hearing Friday at U.S. District Court in Albuquerque.

Monica Barrientes Rocha and Linda Katty Sotelo were arrested after the discovery Aug. 1 by Homeland Security officials of “14 Hispanic male illegal aliens” at a residence on the 100 block of Saturn Circle in Clovis, according to federal court records.

Investigators were clued into the location the day before by border agents in Van Horn, Texas, who through intelligence from workers with the “Koala Alien Smuggling Organization” had “advised of one specific (Clovis) location where a ‘Stash’ house recently contained 30 to 35 illegal aliens,” records show.

After surveilling the address for almost 24 hours, multiple agencies converged for a “knock and talk” assisted by border patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Clovis Police Department.

Inside, they found two juveniles later identified as U.S. citizens and Rocha’s children.

Of the 14 others inside, three were unaccompanied minors from Guatemala and sent to the care of an ICE juvenile coordinator in El Paso, according to a criminal complaint.

Interviews were conducted at the Albuquerque ICE office, and many of the remaining 11 men identified Rocha and Sotelo in photo lineups as the two women who drove them from Texas after they crossed the border.

The men were variously from El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico, records show, and some paid up to $7,000 each to smugglers facilitating their journey.

They were turned over to ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Office.

In the complaint, Special Agent Patrick Werick described “stash houses” as locations where aliens smuggled past immigration check points are held before transport to their ultimate destinations.

Werick said the people held there are often extorted for more money from their families and can be held there indefinitely “in horrendous and unsanitary conditions.”


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