A former Mexican soccer star, Club Tijuana's top goal scorer of all time, was arrested for alleged human trafficking Sunday while entering the U.S. at the Otay Port of Entry south of San Diego, court documents show.
Raúl Enríquez Arámbula, 37, was at the border crossing at around 5 a.m. on Sept. 11 when he was approached by border agents who asked him where he was headed. He responded he was going to play soccer in Santa Ana, California. Then the agents asked the soccer star to open his car trunk after spotting a blanket in the back covering an object. It was then the agents discovered two Mexican migrants hiding under a blanket, court documents state.
Arámbula denied any knowledge of the women in his car or how they would have entered his car.
One of the women told authorities she was going to pay $18,500 for a successful entry into the U.S. and that she was going to Santa Ana, and the second woman said she would pay between $15,000 and $18,000 for a successful entry into the country and was going to Santa Maria, California, the federal document said. Both women said they made the deal with unknown people in Mexico.
Arámbula was taken into custody and escorted to a security office, while the vehicle was taken to secondary inspection by another agent, authorities said.
After his retirement and for a couple of years, Raúl Enríquez was frequently seen on courts in Tijuana, playing for amateur teams, where usually the pay is zero or very little.
Who is Raúl Enríquez Arámbula?
Enriquez, originally from Colima, Mexico, began his career with Jaguares de Chiapas in 2005.
In 2008, he joined Club Tijuana and became the scoring leader in the Ascenso MX. In 2010, he helped Club Tijuana win the 2010 Apertura trophy in the promotion league where six months later he would reach the First Division. He is currently Club Tijuana's all-time top goalscorer.
According to his Liga MX card, Enríquez was also part of the Petroleros de Salamanca, Jaguares de Chiapas, Xolos, Dorados de Sinaloa, Mineros de Zacatecas and Bravos de Ciudad Juárez teams.
What happens now?
If found guilty, in addition to criminal consequences he could face even more consequences being a Mexican citizen, explained Cesar Luna, an immigration lawyer who is not related to the case.
"You can be permanently banned from the country if you are trying to emigrate because of family ties, and it is a very rare occasion that you will be granted a visa again," he said.
Enriquez Arámbula had a hearing scheduled for Wednesday that has been rescheduled for Sept. 15 in front of Judge Allison H. Goddard.
This story was originally reported by NBC 7's sister station, Telemundo 20. To read the article in Spanish, click here.