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Woman wanted in connection with ‘stash house’

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Christine McDonald 

A Chaves County resident whose house was allegedly used to house Guatemalan nationals in the country illegally is now wanted on a felony arrest warrant for harboring and transporting illegal immigrants into the United States.

Sheriff Mike Herrington said Christine McDonald, 41, of Roswell, is wanted on charges related to housing migrants at a 17 Concord Road residence.

Chaves County deputies assisted personnel from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Wednesday in executing search warrants on the property and arrest warrants for those suspected of housing the migrants, Herrington said.

McDonald though was not at the residence when Homeland Security agents and deputies arrived Wednesday. Herrington said McDonald is five feet, five inches tall and 105 pounds with green eyes.

At Wednesday’s monthly meeting of the Chaves County Federated Republican Women Herrington, who was the featured speaker at the meeting, told the crowd he first learned about the existence of the alleged “stash house” Friday at 6 p.m. as he pulled into his driveway.

He told the crowd that a man pulled up behind him, rushed over and said “Venezuelans” were being kept at the Concord Road location.

“And he said they are about to move these people right now, they are going to move them at 7 o’clock” Herrington recounted.

Chaves County Deputies and ICE were contacted. Herrington said when he drove out to the location at Concord Road it matched the description the unnamed man provided. Deputies found seven Guatemalan men — including two teenagers — at the residence, along with some people believed to have been housing them.

“So this is not just someone seeking asylum to me, this is kidnapping,” Herrington stated.

The migrants being kept there did not understand English and those housing them did not speak Spanish, he said.

Much like another so-called stash house found in February, in Dexter along U.S. 285, shoes and clothes were piled up outside and the Guatemalan nationals slept in a shed.

ICE later took possession of the seven men. The five adult males were housed in the Chaves County Detention Center over the weekend, while the two teenagers were held at the Chaves County Juvenile Detention Center.

Herrington recounted at the meeting how, during a conversation he had with the two teenage males, he learned that their father — who had been with them — had died while being trafficked into the U.S., and their mother was still in Central America.

“So these kids are scared to death,” he said.

More migrants were moved from the stash house to Louisiana Friday, shortly before deputies and ICE had arrived, Herrington said. He added more individuals in Chaves County, some of them longtime residents, are believed to be involved with human trafficking.

“Some of them have owned houses in the same place for three generations,” he said.

Herrington said there is a great deal of money made in trafficking.

“It’s a lot of money, you are talking four to five thousand dollars per person in a house,” he said.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at breakingnews@rdrnews.com.