An accused human smuggler is facing multiple charges after being caught by the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) during a traffic stop on I-75 in Brooksville.
According to an FHP arrest report, shortly after 12:30 p.m. on March 8, an FHP trooper spotted a black Toyota Camry traveling southbound in the center lane of I-75 in Brooksville. After the sedan entered the inside southbound lane of the highway, the trooper pulled over its driver Celedonio Mendoza Mendoza, 36, for exceeding the speed limit.
Mendoza Mendoza, who said he had been in the U.S. illegally for 19 years, produced a Mexican passport but had no valid U.S. driver’s license. His passenger Roberto Vazquez Cruz said that he had been in the U.S. illegally for 10 months and that Mendoza was being paid to transport him from Tennessee to work in the kitchen of a Chinese restaurant in Tampa.
Mendoza Mendoza confirmed that the $1,200 in cash found in his wallet was payment for Vazquez Cruz’s transport to Florida.
In the vehicle’s trunk, Troopers discovered an envelope marked “Roberto” containing $1,200 in cash to be sent to Vazquez Cruz’s family in Mexico. A wallet belonging to Mendoza Mendoza containing a list of names and phone numbers and a batch of receipts for gas and hotels in Georgia and Virginia was also found in the trunk.
Troopers subsequently arrested Mendoza Mendoza and charged him with one count each of felony human smuggling and operating a motor vehicle without a valid license.
He was booked into the Hernando County Detention Center and was released on March 11.