SARITA (Kiii News) - A traffic stop on Highway 77 landed a Kenedy County woman in hot water with the federal authorities.
Sandra Lee Miller, 41, is the wife of a Justice of the Peace, and has recently run for public office herself. She has been charged with bringing in and harboring illegal immigrants.
Miller's arrest all started with a traffic stop around 6 a.m. Monday. It happened on Highway 77, about a quarter-mile south of 285. The Hummer Miller was in was stopped by the Department of Public Safety for a license plate light violation.
The U.S. Border Patrol said there were nine illegal immigrants in the vehicle, from Ecuador, Honduras and Guatemala.
Border Patrol agents took Miller into custody and processed her in Corpus Christi. She is well known because she recently ran for Kenedy County Tax Assessor/Collector, but lost to the incumbent. She is also married to Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Judge Jerry Miller.
"This is a surprise for me," said Eleuteria "Susie" Gonzalez, the Kenedy County tax assessor/collector who Miller lost to in election. "I have known them for several years, but never did I think that they would do something like that."
Employees at the justice court in Sarita, TX, where her husband works, declined to comment.
The complain filed against Miller said she aided, abetted and assisted in the transport of illegal immigrants, which is a federal crime.
According to a statement by the another woman named in the criminal complaint, Miller allegedly asked a woman named Maria Guerra to come to her house in Sarita, TX, to help translate for some illegal immigrants who were staying in the barn near her house. The complaint said one of the illegal immigrants lived in a small house on the Miller property.
The affidavit said Miller offered Guerra $100 to help transport the illegal immigrants to Houston. Miller was to be paid $500 for each, and Guerra said the families of those immigrants were instructed to wire money via Money Gram to the Walmart in Kingsville, and that Miller told Guerra she did not want to receive all of the money in her name because it would look bad.
Guerra also stated that Miller's husband, Judge Jerry Miller, and two sons, were also present at the home while the immigrants were being harbored on the property.
The affidavit also said Miller told Border Patrol agents that she picked up the illegal immigrants at the corner of her house and was going to take them to the store. Then, she said she wanted to speak with a lawyer before saying anything else.