California man pleads guilty to human trafficking charge in Summit County
A man from California who was stopped on Interstate 80 in Summit County with eight undocumented passengers has pleaded guilty to human trafficking, according to the Summit County Attorney’s Office.
Juan Pedro Nieves, 33, of El Monte, California, pleaded guilty to the charge, a third-degree felony, in Summit County’s 3rd District Court on Monday. A third-degree felony carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Prosecutors agreed to dismiss once count of obstructing justice and one count of driving without insurance in exchange for Nieves pleading guilty to human trafficking, according to court records.
Nieves was stopped as he was traveling eastbound on Interstate 80 on July 31, according to court documents. Deputies stopped him after a records check revealed the insurance on the Ford Expedition he was driving was not valid.
Documents state Nieves admitted the vehicle was uninsured. He was also shaking and breathing heavily. Prosecutors say the deputy saw several people sitting in the back seats. An investigation revealed that the eight passengers were all from South America and were undocumented immigrants.
Nieves later admitted he has been transporting undocumented immigrants since January, after he was arrested on drug-related charged in Georgia, court documents state. He said he charges each person $150, on top of gas and hotel charges. He told police he made about $1,200 per trip.
Nieves told the deputy he picked up his passengers in California and was taking them to Chicago. Documents state his vehicle’s license plate was recently observed in Georgia, Kansas, Colorado, California, and along the East Coast.
Nieves is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 22.
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The Park City Council primary election is slated for Aug. 13, but the ballots in the vote-by-mail contest were scheduled to be sent on Tuesday. The Summit County Clerk’s Office anticipates the ballots will arrive in mailboxes and post-office boxes on Friday or Saturday.