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U.S. Service Members Sentenced for Smuggling Undocumented Migrants While in Uniform


Add this one to the safety brief. Two service members, one of them an active duty soldier, the other a National Guardsman, were sentenced last week for trying to smuggle undocumented migrants across Texas while in uniform. 

Last week, Emmanuel Oppongagyare, a member of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, and Ralph Gregory Saint-Joie, an active duty soldier at Fort Hood, Texas, were sentenced to 21 and 13 months in confinement, respectively, along with three years of supervised release, following a guilty plea from both parties last August, according to a Justice Department release. Their ranks were not disclosed in the release.

On June 13, 2021, Oppongagyare and Saint-Joie were stopped at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection checkpoint in Hebbronville, Texas roughly 50 miles from the U.S. Mexico border. The two men, who were both in uniform at the time, were halted for questioning, telling authorities they were traveling from Mexico to San Antonio. Following a search of the vehicle, two undocumented Mexican citizens were discovered in the trunk of the car, according to an earlier Justice Department release about the incident. 

Following the arrest, Oppangagyare told prosecutors he had been recruited along with Saint-Joie to drive the migrants from McAllen, Texas, along the U.S.-Mexico border, to San Antonio, Texas, for an undisclosed amount of money.  

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