A Denham Springs couple has been arrested after Troopers discovered 25 undocumented immigrants in vehicles the couple was driving in Calcasieu Parish.
Troopers say that on the evening of June 14, 2018, a Trooper observed the driver of a sport utility vehicle commit a traffic violation on I-10 Eastbound between Sulphur and Westlake. At about the same time, a different Trooper in the area observed another sport utility vehicle driver commit a traffic violation.
During the traffic stops, a total of 25 undocumented immigrants were allegedly discovered in the two vehicles including two unaccompanied juveniles. Troopers say that these victims were being transported through a human smuggling operation, where they would be forced into debt bondage.
Troopers arrested the drivers, 32-year-old Stephanie T. Harris and 38-year-old Nicholas L. Harris, both of Denham Springs, LA. Each was charged with improper lane use, human trafficking, and human trafficking of a juvenile and were booked into the Calcasieu Correctional Center.
Bond for each was set at $376,000. If convicted, each faces up to 35 years in prison.
State Police say that the US Border Patrol took custody of the illegal aliens and placed the juveniles into protective custody. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Louisiana State Police Special Investigations Unit also assisted.
The investigation remains ongoing.
"This type of trafficking is an example of modern-day slavery, where unreasonable working conditions exist. Louisiana State Police will continue to focus on trafficking investigations, with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners and service providers, to bring resources and services to the victims of these type of crimes," a press release states.
Anyone with any information on sex or labor trafficking should call the Louisiana State Police Fusion Center hotline at 1.800.434.8007.