BY JENNIFER CABRERA
David Ramirez-Ayuso, 29, was arrested yesterday on I-75 in Alachua County after a Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) trooper found evidence that he was being paid to transport two illegal immigrants from Chicago to Florida.
The trooper initially noticed that the white Ford Expedition had a window tint violation on the rear windows and that the driver quickly rolled the windows down. The trooper conducted a traffic stop on the Expedition south of the Williston Road exit, and the driver supplied a Mexico Driver’s License, Mexico identification card, and an Arizona registration for the vehicle. The driver was identified as Ramirez-Ayuso.
The trooper noted that he could smell “overwhelming… body odor” coming from inside the vehicle, and there was trash scattered on the floor board and on the seats. He noted that the driver was wearing “orderly” clothes, including a yellow high-visibility traffic vest, but the two passengers’ clothes appeared to be “wrinkled and dirty as if they had been wearing the same clothes for multiple days.”
The trooper said he asked Ramirez-Ayuso whose vehicle it was, and Ramirez-Ayuso said it belonged to his brother-in-law, but he could not provide the name of the owner. The trooper said Ramirez-Ayuso appeared “nervous, his hands were shaking, breath was heavy, and his voice was shaking when speaking.” He said he asked Ramirez-Ayuso where he was coming from, and he said he was traveling from Chicago with his two friends to find construction work in Ocala. When asked the names of his friends, he reportedly said, “No.”
Another trooper obtained Mexico identification cards from the two passengers, but they did not speak English. When a Spanish-speaking trooper arrived, the first man, Cesar Avina Saucedo, 18, reportedly said he was traveling from Chicago to somewhere in Florida, but he didn’t know the exact location, to see his cousin, who he was able to name. Saucedo reportedly said the driver had paid all the expenses for the trip and that he had been transported from somewhere in the U.S. (the trooper wrote that he acted like he did not know where) by his cousin to Chicago. Saucedo reportedly said he had crossed the border from Mexico into the U.S. on foot about a month ago. He did not know the driver’s full name and did not know the name of the other passenger.
The second passenger was identified as Oscar Mejia Marin, 36. He reportedly told the trooper that he heard from one of his friends in Chicago that the driver helps transport people to Florida and that he was traveling to Bradenton to stay with his sister. He reportedly said his sister was supposed to pay the driver when they arrived, but he didn’t know how much. Marin reportedly told the trooper that he had crossed the border from Mexico into the U.S. and that “people” had paid $9,000 to transport him from the border to Chicago. He reportedly said the same “people” were paying $800 to transport him to Florida, but he didn’t know where they were taking him.
Ramirez-Ayuso then reportedly told the Spanish-speaking trooper that his brother-in-law told him to pick up two passengers from “China Town” and take them to Florida. He said his brother-in-law had given him $3,200 for travel expenses and rent until they could find jobs in Ocala. Ramirez-Ayuso also reportedly said the passengers were supposed to pay $300 when they reached their destination, then changed the story to say they had to pay his brother-in-law in Chicago, then said they have to pay him back for the travel expenses after they find work in Ocala. Ramirez-Ayuso reportedly said he has been in the U.S. for about two years and had crossed the border on foot, followed by help from his uncle.
Based on the information from the interviews, the trooper charged Ramirez-Ayuso with two counts of human trafficking and one count of driving without a valid license. The trooper requested a high bond for him.
Ramirez-Ayuso is being held on $2,005,000 bond, and an ICE detainer has been issued. We have asked Florida Highway Patrol for information on the two passengers, but we have not yet received a response.
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.