An East County ranch owner was ordered to hand her 76-acre property over to the government after she was found guilty of smuggling undocumented immigrants into the country.
A federal jury convicted Kala D. Rains, 47, on seven counts Wednesday, including conspiracy, bringing in immigrants for financial gain, harboring and transporting immigrants
According to U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy, Rains and other co-conspirators used her Potrero ranch as a smuggling point on their way from Mexico into the U.S. The organization brought in several groups in and around the Tecate, California area.
At Rains' trial, smuggled immigrants testified that they had to pay between $6,500 and $7,500 as a fee to conspiracy members, Duffy says.
Prosecutors also used video-recorded undercover meetings and audio recordings as evidence to build a case against Rains. She was arrested at the end of a two-year Homeland Security investigation in connection with U.S. Border Patrol.
Duffy says co-defendants Caroline Haro Espindola, Jose Maria Partida-Esquivel and Alexander Flores all pleaded guilty to their rolls in the conspiracy.
At her Feb. 27 sentencing, Rains faces a minimum prison term of three years and up to five to ten years for each count, as well as a $250,000 fine. The jury also determined the ranch used by Rains in the conspiracy should be forfeited to the U.S. government.