Three cases of child smuggling in Laredo, Texas

Ryan K. Patrick, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District Of Texas, has announced that three people in their twenties entered guilty pleas in separate but similar cases involving the smuggling of minor children. All three incidents occurred in October 2019, at the international border at Laredo, Texas.

Laredo resident Amelia Batres, age 22, admitted in federal court that she attempted to enter the U.S. with a 6-year-old child she falsely claimed was her son. On October 13, 2019, Batres attempted to enter from Mexico at the Juarez–Lincoln International Bridge in Laredo. Batres presented her real son’s birth certificate in an attempt to pass the boy who was accompanying her as her own child.

When authorities questioned the boy, he admitted that Batres was not his real mother. Amelia Batres ultimately admitted the boy’s family had arranged to pay her to smuggle him into the United States.

Earlier this week, Maria Elena Chavez-Valenzuela, 29, pleaded guilty and admitted to attempting to enter with a girl she falsely claimed was her daughter. On October 12, Chavez-Valenzuela, of Indianapolis, attempted to enter the United States via the Gateway to the Americas Bridge in Laredo. She claimed that a 10-year-old female accompanying her was her own daughter.

Eventually, Maria Elena Chavez-Valenzuela admitted she had been hired to smuggle the girl into the U.S. and would be paid $5,000 if successful.

On Monday of this week, Michael Dimas Tibursio, 22, admitted to attempting to bring a young child into the country, claiming he was his nephew. On October 25, Tibursio, who is also from Indianapolis, arrived on a passenger bus at the Juarez–Lincoln International Bridge in Laredo. A 5-year-old boy was accompanying him. Michael Dimas Tibursio told authorities that the boy was his nephew and presented what he claimed to be the boy’s birth certificate. Authorities soon determined that the boy was in fact a Mexican citizen unrelated to Tibursio.

Michael Dimas Tibursio later admitted he was being paid to smuggle the boy to family members in Indianapolis.