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Border Patrol arrests 22-year-old Mission man accused of smuggling migrants

Jose Manuel De La Serna Jr., 22, of Mission is charged with bringing in and harboring aliens. (Photo courtesy of the Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office)

Border Patrol agents arrested a Mission man and four migrants Thursday after a traffic stop.

A La Joya policeman stopped a Ford Explorer near the intersection of Farm-to-Market Road 2221 and 2 Mile Line on Thursday.

The driver, Jose Manuel De La Serna Jr., 22, of Mission, didn't have a driver's license, according to the criminal complaint. Four passengers handed the policeman identification cards from other countries, including Guatemala.

Suspicious about the Guatemalan identification cards, the policeman called Border Patrol. Agents determined the passengers weren't legally present in the United States and arrested everyone.

"De La Serna Jr. stated he knew the people he was transporting were illegal immigrants," according to the criminal complaint. "He indicated this was his second time being caught smuggling illegal immigrants, and admitted to being caught before."

After following a smuggler to La Grulla, he picked up the immigrants, according to the criminal complaint. He planned to drive them to an abandoned house in Mission.

De La Serna is charged with bringing in and harboring aliens.

Court records don't list an attorney for De La Serna, who remains in federal custody and couldn't be reached for comment.

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