AMSTERDAM - A traffic stop in Amsterdam last week led to the discovery of six people in the county illegally and the arrest of their driver, federal prosecutors said.
The traffic stop of a rented mini-van happened just before 3 a.m. Nov. 5. Amsterdam police stopped the vehicle for a traffic infraction, a federal complaint reads.
Officers soon learned that the driver, identified as Anselmo Padron Martinez, 47, of Virginia, was a U.S. citizen, but that his passengers were citizens of Mexico that the driver indicated he had just picked up near the border at Champlain, about 170 miles north of the stop, according to the complaint.
The six passengers also did not appear to police to be legally in the United States, the complaint reads.
Police soon contacted Homeland Security, who responded and interviewed the driver, Martinez, according to the complaint.
Martinez turned out to be a legal permanent resident of the United States, but a citizen of Mexico. Investigators also determined none of the six, who included a girl, had permission to be in the country, the complaint reads.
Their clothing and shoes also had mud on then and their hair and clothing had visible dried burrs, as if they had recently traveled a field or wooded area, the complaint reads.
Martinez confirmed to investigators that he had picked up the six near the border area, but he had been there to pick up only one person, the brother of a friend. The friend told Martinez the brother would be arriving from Canada and gave Martinez GPS coordinates
Martinez rented a vehicle because his own truck was in poor condition and he rented a mini-van because that was all the agency had, Martinez allegedly told investigators.
Martinez then claimed to investigators that he was driving slowly near the coordinates at about 11 p.m. Nov. 4 when "he suddenly heard someone banging on the side of the van," the complaint reads.
Martinez stopped and six people got in. Martinez told investigators he was "surprised that so many people entered the van since he expected to pick up only one person," the complaint reads. Martinez then learned that the six were headed to different locations.
He also gathered that the six had recently been in Canada and that they had just crossed over a mountain, but he did not ask then their immigration status, the complaint reads.
Investigators contacted the border patrol at Champlain and learned that the GPS location is a location known to be used by smugglers to move people illegally from Canada to the United States, the complaint reads.
Investigators charged Martinez with transporting aliens unlawfully president in the United States for the purpose of commercial advantage and private financial gain, federal prosecutors said.
He was arraigned and detained pending a detention hearing Friday. Results of that hearing were not available Monday. He faces up to 10 years in prison, if convicted.
Of the six passengers, five were detained on misdemeanor charges of entry without inspection. A press release from prosecutors did not indicate what happened to the sixth passenger.