Friday, February 23, 2018
Public safety

Hillsborough traffic stop leads to human smuggling charges

TAMPA — A deputy who pulled over a sport utility vehicle without a license tag discovered the driver was transporting five Mexican citizens in the county illegally, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

The driver, 21-year-old Kathleen Roberson of Phenix City, Ala., was going through Hillsborough County on her way to take the five to Immokalee, the Sheriff's Office said. She was arrested and the five were held on immigration charges.

The incident started around 5:15 p.m. Saturday when a deputy noticed a 2003 Kia Sorento without a license plate near the intersection of Falkenburg Road and Progress Boulevard.

Upon investigation, the deputy discovered five of the people in the SUV were in the county illegally and that Roberson was carrying $6,000 cash.

U.S. Border Patrol was notified, and an agent seized the SUV and the cash.

Roberson was arrested on a charge of driving without a valid license and also faces federal charges of human trafficking. She was being held Sunday in Hillsborough County Jail without bail.

Another passenger, Jessica Roland, 29, also of Phenix City, Ala., was arrested on a cocaine possession charge.

The Mexican citizens were being held at the jail pending deportation proceedings. They are Flora Flores-Salinas, 18; Teresa Quintas-Osario, 27; Ramon Juarez-Martinez, 27; Artemio Pedrez-Abarca, 35; and Salvador Hernandez-Mendez, 18.

The investigation was continuing.

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