PARK CITY — Police say a California man has been making money by transporting undocumented immigrants around the U.S.
Juan Pedro Nieves, 32, of El Monte, California, was charged Friday in 3rd District Court with engaging in human trafficking, a third-degree felony, in addition to obstructing justice, a class A misdemeanor; and driving with no insurance, a class C misdemeanor.
On Tuesday, a Summit County sheriff's deputy pulled over a van on I-80. He noticed the driver, Nieves, "was shaking and breathing heavily" as the deputy tried to talk to him, according to charging documents.
There were also eight passengers sitting shoulder-to-shoulder in the back, the charges state.
"Further investigation revealed that none of the eight passengers inside the Expedition were lawfully present in the United States, and some had previously been deported," according to court documents.
All of the passengers were from various South American countries, the charges state.
Nieves told investigators that he began transporting undocumented people in January after a drug-related arrest in Georgia, the charges state. He said he charges $150 per person in addition to each individual expected to pitch in for gas and hotel rooms, according to the charges.
"Nieves said that he does one to two trips per month and makes approximately $1,200 in profit per trip," court records state.
The group that was stopped in Summit County was picked up in California and headed to Chicago, the charges state.
Shortly after Nieves was pulled over, he erased his smartphone "because he did not want deputies to discover evidence of illegal conduct," according to the charges.