Sioux City couple arrested for human smuggling

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SIOUX CITY, Iowa — A Sioux City couple arrested on federal charges after they allegedly sexually assaulted an undocumented Guatemalan girl after they allegedly smuggled her to the United States.

According to federal court documents, Cristobal Francisco-Nicolas and Amy Francisco, both of Sioux City, were charged with bringing in and harboring certain aliens, which a federal offense, after they allegedly smuggled a young girl from Guatemala to the United States between May 28 and June 19.

The court documents said that on the Sioux City Police Department responded to a call of a minor, referred to as ABF, saying she was sexually assaulted as she walked the streets. ABF was then interviewed at the Sioux City Children’s Advocacy Center on June 13 with a child forensic interviewer and an interpreter available on the phone.

During the interview, ABF explained that her mother died when she was around three or four years old so she lived in Guatemala with her aunt. She also told authorities that Fernando Bartolo Francisco, who claimed to be her dad wanted to bring her to the U.S. but she did not want to leave her aunt. Fernando urged her to let him bring her to the U.S.

When Fernando and ABF left Guatemala to the U.S they were arrested by U.S. Border Patrol agents as they were walking across the Rio Grande River on May 29. Then on May 30, they were released from the El Paso Detention Center due to the center running out of room. They were released on an Order of Recognizance and Supervision, according to the authorities.

ABF told authorities that once they were released from the center, they flew to Omaha, Nebraska where Crisobpicked them up and brought them to Sioux City. During her interview she also explained they “locked in a room with a metal bed and a bucket for bodily waste” and that Cristobal raped her as Amy watched, according to the court documents. The court documents also state that ABF was raped five times before she was able to escape the house to go find help.

Homeland Security Investigators and the Sioux City Police were able to get in contact with Fernando, Cristobal and Amy. They then agreed to be interviewed by the authorities on July 19.

During Cristobal’s interview, he told the authorities about “his sister in Guatemala told him about Fernando and ABF wanting to come to the U.S.” He also stated that he arranged for the two to come to the U.S. and he admitted that what he did was wrong. He asked for an attorney when the authorities questioned him about the rape.

The documents stated that during Amy’s interview she claimed a woman, “Sofia” asked her to help purchase bus tickets at the Greyhound Bus Station in Sioux City. Since the bus tickets were sold out and “Sofia” did not own a credit card, Amy paid for plane tickets to for the relatives. Amy also stated in the interview that she and Cristobal picked up the relatives from Omaha since “Sofia” told her she did not know how to get there.

“Sofia” was later identified as Amy by ABF when the authorities did a show-up, according to the court documents.

The documents also state the authorities got a search warrant for Amy and Cristobal’s home on Hamilton Blvd. During the search, law enforcement officers found Ronald Craig, Amy’s dad, and three other Guatemala citizens.

During the interview with Craig, he stated “Cristobal and Amy have assisted approximately 10 family members and friends of Cristobals with traveling to the U.S. from Guatemala,” according to the court documents. He also told authorities that they gave the individuals direction saying “they must bring a child with them, once entering the U.S. they turn themselves in and, then if released, Cristobal and Amy will pay for them by bus or plane to Sioux City,” as stated in the court documents. The documents also state that Craig also said, “Amy and Cristobal provided them with food, lodging, clothes and obtain them a job.”

Craig also mentioned in his interview with the authotiries that Amy and Cristobal had the people they smuggled in pay for rent and food. They also had to Amy and Cristobal back for their travels to the United States, according to the court documents. Craig also told the authorities that “Amy paid $700 to bring ABF and Fernando to the U.S. and made all of the arrangements for them to travel from Guatemala to the Sioux City,” according to the court documents.

In the court documents, the three other people who were smuggled confirmed that what Craig told the police about the arrangements were accurate in order for them to be smuggled into the United States by Amy and Cristobal.

Cristobal Francisco-Nicolas and Amy Francisco were arrested in San Diego, California on July 10, by federal authorities.

Story from SiouxlandProud, KCAU

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