Federal Informer Says He Transported Aliens Within the U.S.
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) _ An informant testified Tuesday that he transported illegal aliens to Phoenix and Los Angeles at the bidding of several of 11 defendants being tried on charges of conspiring to smuggle illegal aliens.
Jesus Cruz, who posed as a voluntary sanctuary worker during 1984, also said one defendant tore up an immigration application and told two Salvadorans who sneaked into the United States to pretend to be Mexicans.
The 11 defendants, on trial in U.S. District Court, are charged with conspiring to smuggle Salvadoran and Guatemalan refugees into the country.
The defendants claim the aliens were refugees fleeing political oppression, and thus deserve legal asylum under U.S law. Prosecutors say the aliens were merely seeking better jobs.
Cruz said he was at Sacred Heart Church in Nogales, Ariz., when one defendant, the Rev. Anthony Clark, 37, met with two Salvadorans who had sneaked into the country. The pair had been picked up by federal authorities but released after the authorities gave them immigration applications.
Clark tore up the papers and told the two, ″From this moment on, you are Mexicans,″ Cruz testified. Clark gave the two false names and told them to pretend they came from the Mexican state of Oaxaca, the informer said. Cruz said he later drove the pair to Phoenix.
Cruz testified that defendant Maria del Socorro Pardo de Aguilar planned for an alien to use a borrowed immigration card to enter this country, but dropped the idea because the alien did not match the card’s picture.
Cruz also said he drove two teen-aged Central Americans from Nogales, Ariz., to their mother’s home in Phoenix in May 1984. Their mother, Bertha Martel Benavidez, was named in the case’s original indictment in January but pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count.
Cruz also testified that he drove three illegal aliens to Los Angeles for a reunion with a relative. Cruz testified last week that he Ms. Aguilar or the Rev. Ramon Dagoberto Quinones, another defendant, helped the three and the teen-agers who were driven to Phoenix cross the border in several groups.
Cruz testified last week and again Tuesday that he acted under directions from defendant Mary K. Doan Espinoza, and that he picked up the five aliens at churches in Nogales and Tucson. He said he met two other defendants, Clark and the Rev. John Fife, for the first time in the two churches on that day.
Also Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Earl Carroll denied a defense motion seeking to bar the prosecution from referring to aliens’ nationalities unless he had direct evidence to support it.