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US Gov’t drops charges against alleged ‘stash house’ woman

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The case against a woman arrested in June for allegedly operating a “stash house” for people brought into the United States illegally from South American countries has been dismissed.

McDonald

Elizabeth Martinez, Assistant United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico, said Friday that on Sept. 13, the United States moved to dismiss charges against Christine McDonald without prejudice — meaning the government could possibly refile charges at a later time.

“Because, as a matter of policy, the U.S. Attorney’s Office is limited to disclosing matters of public record, we are not able to provide further information regarding the dismissal of the charges,” Martinez said.

McDonald, 42, of Roswell, was charged with “conspiracy to harbor, transport, move or attempt to move aliens,” after seven Guatemalan nationals in the United States illegally were found on a property owned by her.

A federal criminal warrant was later issued for McDonald, who subsequently turned herself over to the Chaves County Sheriff’s Office June 24. McDonald was then transferred to the custody of Homeland Security agents. She had appeared in federal court in Las Cruces.

Court documents state McDonald had been out on a $5,000 unsecured bond since July 3.

The alleged stash house first came to the attention of law enforcement June 14, based on a tip Mike Herrington, Chaves County Sheriff, received from a man who claimed that people from South America were being held at the property and were set to be moved.

Herrington, along with deputies and federal agents, then went to the 17 Concord Road property where they discovered seven males from Guatemala — including two teenagers — who were unable to speak English but were being kept at the residence along with some people believed to be housing them.

One migrant being kept at the residence said he and others had paid between $8,000 and $12,000 to be transported illegally from Guatemala to cities across the United States, according to court documents.

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