MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A Costa Rican woman pleaded guilty Monday today to conspiracy to smuggle more than 25 undocumented immigrants from Cuba to the United States.
Mercedes Morera Roche, 49, was extradited to the United States from Panama in August to face the charges against her.
U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida made the announcement.
According to her plea agreement, Roche admitted that between 2004 and 2011, she was an organizer of a human smuggling network that provided instructions, fraudulent identity and travel documents, escorts, transport, safe house locations, and other assistance to facilitate the illicit travel of undocumented immigrants to the United States.
Officials said Roche admitted she provided fraudulent passports in some cases so that undocumented immigrants could fly to the United States with the help of corrupt foreign airline and immigration officials.
Roche directed the immigrants to destroy the fraudulent documents during their flights before landing at United States airports, officials said.
In other cases, Roche allegedly coordinated the smuggling of undocumented immigrants via land through Latin America and Mexico into the United States. Roche solicited payments of up to $10,000 for each undocumented immigrant.
Roche’s sentencing is scheduled for December 11.
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