Woman enters cold plea in smuggling case


A woman charged with four co-conspirators for her role in transporting and harboring undocumented people for payment pleaded guilty in federal court in Brownsville.

Eloisa Silva, 25, was charged with five counts on a superseding indictment handed down by a grand jury on April 16, 2019. On Tuesday, she entered a cold plea on counts 1 and 4 of the indictment.

The government intends to dismiss the three remaining counts against Silva, according to the federal prosecutor. The guilty plea will strip Silva of her civil rights to vote, serve on a jury, run for public office, and possess a firearm.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald G. Morgan told Silva that the maximum sentence on Count 4 is 20 years, with a fee of up to $500,000 and a three-year term of supervised release.

The defendants’ total $922,351 in earnings from the conspiracy is subject to forfeiture. Morgan specified that the forfeiture will take the place of the fine since the amount is higher.

Silva and other defendants will be subject to property seizure if the government can prove it was obtained with funds earned through the smuggling operation.

According to the indictment, Silva was charged with participating in the transport and harboring of undocumented people from September 2015 to May 2017.

Silva and co-defendants maintained bank accounts with Wells Fargo and International Bank of Commerce to accept fees that were withdrawn and given to co-defendant Ismael De Jesus-Flores and others, according to the document.

Silva was also accused of causing others to deposit and electronically wire money for smuggling fees through MoneyGram and Western Union. The fees were collected and passed on to De Jesus-Flores and others, the indictment stated.

According to court records, Silva was arrested on Oct. 16, 2019, and was arraigned on Oct. 22, 2019, after which she was released on a $10,000 unsecured bond.