A man accused of smuggling migrants through Sullivan City in a Lyft pleaded guilty last week.
Jose C. Vigil, 18, of Mission pleaded guilty to smuggling of persons, a third-degree felony, on Oct. 1.
State District Judge Keno Vasquez, however, set aside the plea and placed Vigil on community supervision for two years. He must also pay a $500 fine, contribute $50 to a local Crime Stoppers program and make other payments ordered by the court.
If he completes the community supervision program, the charge against Vigil will be dismissed.
Attorney Daniel R. Reyes of McAllen, who represented Vigil, didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Sullivan City police officers arrested Vigil in April, when they stopped a white Volkswagen Jetta for driving without a front license plate.
Along with the driver, the Jetta had three passengers. Two had wet, muddy clothing. They sat in the back seat with Vigil.
The driver said he worked for Lyft, the ride-sharing company, and didn’t know the passengers.
At first, the officers didn’t believe the Lyft driver.
They asked him to explain how Lyft worked, reviewed the ride details and contacted Border Patrol.
Vigil, though, confessed to calling the Lyft and confirmed the driver’s story.
When officers questioned him, Vigil said someone named “Juan” offered to pay him $500 to transport the migrants.
“Mr. Vigil also advised that he had done this in more then (sic) one occasion and had delivered the illegal aliens to their destination,” according to Sullivan City Police Department records. At one point, Border Patrol apparently caught Vigil smuggling migrants but released him without charges because “he was still a minor in the federal system.”
Officers arrested Vigil and released the Lyft driver with a warning.
This article originally appeared in the Friday Oct. 11, 2019 issue of the Progress Times.