A San Diego woman who harbored 44 undocumented immigrants in her home, some of whom were locked in a small shed, admitted to the crimes, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.
Dania Olivero, 51, a Cuban national with legal status in the U.S., pleaded guilty to harboring and concealing undocumented immigrants in exchange for thousands of dollars.
Authorities first discovered the stash house, located on the 4900 block of University Avenue in San Diego's City Heights neighborhood, when San Diego Police (SDPD) got multiple calls from neighbors, according to a complaint filed in Federal Court.
Neighbors expressed concern after they saw two cars dropping off multiple people at the home, who then nervously rushed inside the home, the complaint alleges.
Olivero told police she invited the people to drink beer at her house, the complaint alleges.
Officers further investigated, and found the people with unopened beers in front of them in the home. Some of the people ran to the backyard when authorities arrived.
Border Patrol officers were called to the home when police suspected the people may be undocumented immigrants.
All but two identified themselves as Mexican nationals without legal status in the U.S. when questioned, according to the complaint. Two said they were citizens of Guatemala, but did not have legal standing to be in the U.S.
According to the plea agreement, Olivero admitted she provided shelter, food and drinks to shield the individuals from detection. At times, individuals paid between $5,000 and $8,000 to be smuggled into the U.S.
"Many were placed in a backyard shed, a shed without lighting, ventilation. A small shed with approximately 30 other individuals," Conover said.
All 44 of the undocumented immigrants were taken into custody.
Olivero is scheduled to be sentenced on March 17. She could face 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.