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Austin-area woman arrested for alleged human smuggling operation, police say

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A woman near Austin, Texas is facing human smuggling charges after she called police to report a burglar who investigators later determined was part of her alleged illegal smuggling operation. 

Mariana Salgado, 48, was arrested and charged with third-degree felony of smuggling of persons stemming from the burglary call on June 22, according to an arrest affidavit. 

Mariana Salgado is being held at the Williamson County Jail.  (Williamson County Jail )

Around 5:20 p.m. that day, officers responded to 1300 Lakeside Loop, Round Rock Texas on a call regarding a burglary in progress, the affidavit said. 

Officers conducted interviews and determined that the man being accused of burglary was actually a Honduran national named Cristian Aguilar-Lopez, who had been forced to live at the home while he paid off his debts to Salgado, the affidavit said. 

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The $9,200 in debt Aguilar-Lopez allegedly owed Salgado was what she had paid to individuals in Mexico to smuggle him and others into the U.S., the affidavit said. 

Aguilar-Lopez was brought first to San Antonio and then to Salgado’s home in Round Rock, where he was not allowed to leave until he paid off his debt in full, the affidavit said. Aguilar-Lopez’s girlfriend in New Jersey had been making payments to Salgado on his behalf and he also helped install cabinets in new construction homes for $120 a day, the affidavit said. 

Police said Aguilar-Lopez’s girlfriend made around $4,860 in payments before he tried to leave the residence. He had been at the residence for about a month, the affidavit said. 

Homeland Security Investigations confirmed to officers that Aguilar-Lopez was in the U.S. illegally, and he was transported to temporary housing. 

Salgado is being held at the Williamson County Jail. Online records do not list an attorney who could speak on Salgado’s behalf. 

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Round Rock is about 20 miles north of downtown Austin. 

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