- They believed that by wearing officer uniforms their car would not be checked by immigration authorities
Ralph Gregory Saint-Joie, 19, and Emmanuel Oppongagyare, 22, both former members of the US armed forces, were recruited by an undocumented smuggler to help him transport illegal people in exchange for payment.
As they were attracted by the proposal, they decided to accept it, since they considered that by wearing an official uniform the risk of being discovered was minimal, if not nil.
However, their inexperience made them act suspiciously when they tried to pass two Mexican immigrants hidden in the back of a car as they were about to cross the Border Patrol checkpoint in Hebbronville, Texas, on June 13 of the year. past.
After being discovered by the immigration authorities, both ex-soldiers remained in detention until their sentence was set.
In this way, when analyzing the seriousness of his crime, the Department of Justice announced that, having pleaded guilty since August 2021, to the charge of conspiracy to transport aliens, Saint-Joie was sentenced by federal district judge Diana Saldaña to 13 months in federal prison, while Oppongagyare was sentenced to 21 months in prison.
However, both former members of the Armed Forces must also serve three years of supervised release once they have served their sentences.
It should be noted that Saint-Joie was a member of the United States Army and Oppongagyare was part of the Pennsylvania National Guard.
Despite being younger, Ralph Gregory Saint-Joie was allegedly the one who contacted the smuggler of undocumented immigrants with Emmanuel Oppongagyare.
The objective of both was to transfer the migrants from McAllen to San Antonio, where they had to deliver them in exchange for a previously agreed sum of money.
The investigation in which the Criminal Investigations Division of the Department of Homeland Security Investigations and the Department of the Army worked together also determined that Isaiah Gore was the individual who hired the former soldiers and instructed them to wear their uniforms to avoid possible interrogations. .
Likewise, Denerio Williams and Ivory Palmer were found complicit in human smuggling.