BY JENNIFER CABRERA
ALACHUA COUNTY, Fla. – Jorge Luiz Ramos-Hernandez, 19, was arrested yesterday after the van he was driving was pulled over on I-75 and Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) Troopers discovered nine illegal aliens on the floor of the van.
The trooper reported that he saw a minivan traveling southbound on I-75 near the 378 mile marker at about 9:20 a.m. yesterday, with window tint that appeared to be darker than the legal standard. He reported that the van, which had a Mississippi tag, was also traveling “at a very slow speed.”
The trooper reported that he initiated a traffic stop; the van did not immediately pull over but eventually pulled over around mile marker 375. The trooper reported that when he approached the driver, later identified as Ramos-Hernandez, the driver was on his cell phone and would not speak with the trooper. The trooper reported that he could see people sitting on the floor in the rear of the vehicle, surrounded by trash and “what appeared to be a bottle filled with urine.”
The trooper found that Ramos-Hernandez did not understand English, so he waited for a Spanish-speaking trooper to arrive. The driver allegedly gave a false name and birthdate to troopers and was booked as “John Doe” until he was later identified.
Interviews with the five of the nine passengers reportedly elicited the information that they had each paid different amounts of money to Ramos-Hernandez to take them to Orlando. They reportedly said they came from Guatemala and had crossed the border on foot in either New Mexico, Texas, or Arizona. They said they were then transported to Tennessee and stayed in a house there for a few days before Ramos-Hernandez picked them up on June 20.
Post Miranda, Ramos-Hernandez reportedly said his “brother” had paid him to drive the nine people from Tennessee to Orlando. He reportedly said that they were from Guatemala and possibly Mexico.
The trooper requested permission to search the driver’s phone, and Ramos-Hernandez reportedly unlocked it and handed it to the trooper but then allegedly tried to snatch it back, striking a trooper in the process. He then allegedly fled on foot into the woods along the interstate, jumped a barbed wire fence, and fled north. Troopers lost sight of him after about 10 minutes, but a K9 team successfully tracked him. An Alachua County Sheriff’s Office K9 team also assisted with the search. K9 Kratos reportedly located Ramos-Hernandez in a heavily-wooded area at around the 376 mile marker. Ramos-Hernandez was taken into custody and transported to UF Health.
The trooper wrote, “It is believed that [Ramos-Hernandez] has ties to Guatemala and is involved with multiple other people who smuggle illegal aliens into the United States. I respectfully request a high bond amount for [Ramos-Hernandez] due to the current issue on human smuggling and if he is to be released on bond that he is required to wear an ankle monitor due to the high chance or probability of him fleeing the State of Florida.”
Ramos-Hernandez has been charged with nine counts of smuggling an illegal individual into the state, battery on a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest without violence, and driving without a valid driver’s license. He is being held on $245,000 bail.
Alachua Chronicle recently asked an FHP spokesman about what happens to the illegal aliens when the driver is arrested; his answer was that they are typically taken to a safe place off the interstate where they can call their families.
Articles about arrests are based on reports from law enforcement agencies. The charges listed are taken from the arrest report and/or court records and are only accusations. All suspects are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.