Woman living in Mississippi sentenced after posing as U.S. citizen. He arrest comes 24 years after she tried to smuggle drugs across border.

Published 6:49 am Wednesday, January 31, 2024

A woman living in Mississippi has been arrested for assuming the name and identity of a U.S. citizen two decades after she had been arrested for attempting to smuggle drugs across the Mexico border.

Elena Cortez-Acosta, 51, who had been living in Richland was sentenced to two years in jail for aggravated identity theft.

Officials say Customs and Border Patrol officers arrested Cortez-Acosta in 2000 for attempting to smuggle 23.84 kilograms of marijuana in the backseat of her vehicle. She was then removed from the U.S. and returned to Mexico as a Mexican national.

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At some point, Acosta reentered the U.S. “without inspection and assumed the name and identity of a U.S. citizen,” according to documents.

After assuming the identity, she fraudulently applied for a Transportation Worker Identity Credential — a document used to gain access to critical infrastructure areas or sites.

Homeland Security Investigations agents and the Transportation Security Administration Office intervened and arrested her before she received a TWIC card.