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Border Patrol agents arrest 21-year-old Peñitas man accused of smuggling immigrants

Jose Heriberto Zuniga, 21, of Peñitas is charged with bringing in and harboring aliens. (Photo courtesy of the Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office)

Border Patrol arrested a Peñitas man last week after an agent caught him attempting to pick up immigrants near Los Ebanos, according to the federal criminal complaint against him.

Jose Heriberto Zuniga, 21, of Peñitas drove a black Chevrolet Cobalt through Los Ebanos on Nov. 7 "looking side to side as if he was searching for someone," according to the criminal complaint.

Zuniga's behavior caught the attention of a Border Patrol agent.

"The agent drove towards Zuniga's location, and Zuniga began to drive away," according to the criminal complaint. "As Zuniga began to drive away, three subjects were observed jumping a chain link fence from an abandoned property. The Cobalt then came to a stop and the three subjects boarded the Cobalt."

The passengers, though, didn't stay long. When the car stopped, they jumped out and started running away.

Zuniga kept driving north. Border Patrol agents stopped him near the intersection of Paloma Street and U.S. 83 in Sullivan City.

Agents also tracked down and detained all three passengers, who weren't legally present in the United States.

Zuniga is charged with bringing in and harboring aliens.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Dorina Ramos ordered him held without bond until a preliminary examination and detention hearing on Nov. 14.

An attorney who represents Zuniga didn't respond to a request for comment.

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