Man Who Smuggled 16 ‘Cheerleaders’ Into US Pleads Guilty

MIAMI (AP) – The last member of a group accused of smuggling 16 Colombians disguised as cheerleaders into the U.S. has pleaded guilty to visa fraud in Miami.

Immigration officials say 28-year-old Duastin Salazar pleaded guilty Monday. He’s the final member of the group to either plead guilty or be convicted in the case. Salazar was sentenced to time served, two years of supervised release and a $100 special assessment. Nine others who weren’t criminally charged, including seven minors, were returned to Colombia.

The plea was announced Thursday following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.

Immigration officials say the group posed as a cheerleading team visiting South Florida for a competition when they traveled from Colombia to Miami on Sept. 30.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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