SPOKANE, Wash. — Three foreign nationals were charged Monday in connection with the smuggling of 21 South Koreans into the United States.
Kun J. Yoo, 35, of South Korea; Jose E. Castellanos-Ortiz, 28, of Mexico; and 19-year-old Juan Reyes Aviles of Guatemala were charged with single counts of bringing an illegal alien into the United States.
The three allegedly met the Koreans at Vancouver International Airport, took them to a safe house, then left them in a field near the border, authorities said.
There, they were to walk into the United States, where Yoo and the two men, whom he had hired, were to meet them, authorities said.
But the Koreans were stopped shortly before midnight Friday at the border, about 140 miles northeast of Seattle, their apparent destination, Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim Ohm said.
And early Saturday, a van carrying Castellino-Ortiz and Aviles was stopped near the crossing, Ohms said, and Yoo was taken into custody about an hour later after fleeing in a car.
The Koreans, taken to county jail, face Immigration and Naturalization Service deportation and asylum hearings, said Steven Garrett of the U.S. Border Patrol.
Jailed in Spokane, Yoo and his alleged accomplices if convicted face maximum sentences of 10 years and fines of $250,000.