Valley movie theater parking lot used for immigrant smuggling

Border Patrol agents foiled an immigrant smuggling attempt in Rio Grande City

A man is behind bars after he allegedly tried to smuggle six illegal immigrants in the parking lot of a busy movie theater in Rio Grande City.

U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested Juan Carlos De Leon-Campoy on human smuggling charges on Saturday night.

Court records show that the incident happened in the parking lot of the Starplex Cinema.

According to a criminal complaint, the movie theater is located near the Rio Grande River and a common spot for immigrant smuggling.

Agents reported in the complaint that illegal immigrants frequently cross the river, enter the parking lot and blend in with moviegoers before being taken away.

Smuggling Incident

Border Patrol agents on bike patrol on Saturday night allegedly spotted six immigrants get into De Leon-Campoy's pickup truck.

De Leon-Campoy allegedly fled and tried to blend in with moviegoers before authorities found him hiding under a car.

All six immigrants were detained at the scene.

De-Leon Campoy, who was identified as a Mexican national, told Border Patrol agents he was supposed to get paid $100 dollars to take the immigrants to a home off Las Lomas Road.

Court records show that De Leon-Campoy appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Dorina Ramos in McAllen on Monday where he was denied bond until a Thursday morning hearing.

Community Reaction

The Rio Grande City movie theater is the only one in Starr County drawing hundreds of people on Friday and Saturday nights.

Neither the management of the movie theater nor its parent company in Dallas could be reached for comment.

But Rio Grande City Mayor Rube Villarreal spoke to Action 4 News about the incident.

Villarreal said that the movie theater hires off-duty police officers for security.

Although fencing the shopping center would be up to private landowners, Villarreal said increasing local police bike patrols is possible but would require more funding.

The mayor said city leaders are also considering passing an ordinance lowering the curfew age to 15 years old to keep teens safe and off the streets.

Villarreal said immigrant smuggling is common in the parking lots of many area businesses due to Rio Grande City's proximity to the border.

The Rio Grande City mayor asked that area residents and visitors call 911 if they see any suspicious activity.

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