Crime

Affidavit: Mother in El Paso child abuse case charged with smuggling undocumented immigrants

EL PASO, Texas - The El Paso mother charged in connection to a child abuse case involving her own child is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to smuggling undocumented immigrants into the United States, court documents obtained by ABC-7 state.

In early May, El Paso Police charged Michelle Gutierrez with Injury to a Child by Omission for injuries sustained by her 18-month-old toddler son. In addition to the case involving the toddler, police say Gutierrez's 5-month-old daughter died after she was violently shaken by her father, Pedro Salgado. Salgado was charged with Capital Murder for the infant's death and injury to a child for the case involving the toddler. 

A criminal complaint affidavit obtained by ABC-7 states Gutierrez is also facing charges in New Mexico for the alleged smuggling of undocumented immigrants. The court document states Gutierrez told authorities she needed money and agreed to smuggle people into the United States for $150 a head.

The charges stem from an arrest made on October 26, 2018. A Border Patrol agent conducting surveillance in the area around the Santa Teresa Union Ganadera and the Santa Teresa Cattle Auction Zone noticed a group of men south of the border barrier. Further inspection revealed the men cut a hole into the border barrier, then enter the U.S. via the opening, the criminal complaint states.

The Border Patrol agent noticed seven undocumented immigrants run north into the cattle auction compound, where they hid behind a tractor trailer. The agent then observed a silver-colored Dodge Caliber approach the tractor-trailer. The men allegedly entered the Dodge and the driver of the vehicle fled the scene. 

Border Patrol agents pulled over the driver of the Dodge, allegedly identified as Gutierrez, near Binational Avenue and Pete Domenici Highway. The Border Patrol agents said four undocumented immigrants were inside the Dodge with Gutierrez and another three were hiding in the vehicle's trunk.

The court document states five of the undocumented immigrants said they were Mexican nationals and the other two said they were from Guatemala.  The seven undocumented immigrants allegedly admitted they entered the U.S. illegally.

Under interrogation, Gutierrez allegedly told investigators she was having money problems and agreed to smuggle people into the U.S. for $150 each, the criminal complaint states. Gutierrez allegedly admitted to picking up four individuals in the same area on October 24, 2018 after being paid $600. 

The morning of October 26th, Gutierrez received a phone call from an individual with the assignment to pick up seven more undocumented immigrants in the cattle exchange compound. Gutierrez said she agreed to drive the immigrants to the Walmart on Mesa street in West El Paso, where she would receive a payment of $950.

Gutierrez said she was on the phone with the individual who set up the smuggling attempt and the individual was alerting her to the movement of Border Patrol agents. After she was pulled over by the Border Patrol agents, the individual on the phone with Gutierrez hung up and would no longer answer her phone calls, the document states. 

When investigators interviewed one of the men allegedly smuggled into the country by Gutierrez, he told the agents a friend of his arranged for him to enter the U.S. illegally. The man said he paid $900 to a smuggler in Mexico and expected to pay another $4,000 to be smuggled into the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the criminal complaint states. 

The man said he was transported to the border barrier, where he met up with a group of men cutting a hole into the border barrier. While at the barrier, one of the men in the group received a phone call and was told to look for the silver Dodge Caliber on the U.S. side of the barrier, the man said.   The man further told investigators that as the group approached the vehicle, Gutierrez yelled at the men and told them to get inside the vehicle immediately. 

The man said Gutierrez was driving so fast and erratically that two of the undocumented immigrants told her to stop the vehicle so they could get out. Gutierrez ignored the men's pleas and continued driving, the man said. 

The man said he could hear Gutierrez speaking with someone on the phone regarding the smuggling attempt. 

Federal prosecutors charged Gutierrez with transportation of illegal aliens and conspiracy to transport illegal aliens. Online records state Gutierrez pleaded guilty to the charges in February 2019. She is awaiting sentencing. 

EL PASO CHILD ABUSE CASES

In early May, Gutierrez's boyfriend was accused in the death of their 5-month-old daugther.  The man llegedly told police he grabbed the baby by her face and shook her because the baby was crying during his favorite team's soccer game, a criminal complaint states.

Detectives with the Crimes Against Persons Unit charged Pedro Salgado, the child's father, with Capital Murder. The child's mother, Gutierrez, was charged with Injury to a Child by Omission. 

The investigation began on May 3, 2019 when a 5-month-old girl was taken to a local hospital.  The girl died as a result of the injuries she sustained at home, police said. A criminal complaint obtained by ABC-7 states Salgado called Gutierrez at work and asked her to come home cause their baby was unresponsive. Salgado allegedly told Gutierrez the infant "slipped off her stroller," a criminal complaint states.

Police officers who arrived at the scene said the baby had "visible marks on her lower chin and face area near her temple," the court document states.  Under interrogation, the criminal complaint states, Salgado allegedly told police "he grabbed the baby's face forcefully to the point it made the baby cry."  The document further states Salgado told police he is a "'stay-at-home father' and felt overwhelmed with his responsibilities with his children."

Salgado told police his favorite soccer team was playing and he was watching the game on television. During the second half, the baby girl began to cry and "frustrated" Salgado, the court document states. Salgado "admitted to forcefully grabbing the baby by her face and shaking her once," the document states, "the defendant confessed in detail that he did not know if the baby was breathing after her shook her."

Salgado, the document states, "admitted to walking to the living room to watch the second half of the televised soccer game ... Once the game had finalized, (Salgado) checked on the baby and noticed the baby was not breathing and was non-responsive." 

Instead of calling 911 for immediate assistance, Salgado called the baby's mother at work to tell her "he had dropped the baby," the court document states, "Once first responders were at the scene, (Salgado) claimed the baby had slipped out of her stroller and suffocated in a pile of clothes."  Gutierrez told police she had never seen her infant daughter slip out of the stroller.

Police said Salgado then changed his account of the events several times before admitting to grabbing the child by the face and shaking her, the criminal complaint states. Salgado allegedly admitted "he may have taken it too far with the baby and that resulted in her death," the court document states. 

A second investigation revealed a second child at the home was found to have similar injuries to the 5-month-old infant who died, police said. That child, who is nearly two years old, was evaluated at a hospital. Police charged Salgado with Injury to a Child in connection to that case. Gutierrez is facing charges because of the injuries to the toddler. A criminal complaint affidavit states the mother lied to police about the injuries to the toddler in order to protect Salgado. 

A spokesman with Child Protectives Services told ABC-7 CPS has no record of any child abuse reports regarding Salgado and Gutierrez. 
 


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