SAN ANTONIO — The mysterious woman who allegedly lured dozens of immigrants to the Florida state government. Ron DeSantis’ flight from San Antonio to Martha’s Vineyard has been identified by multiple media outlets as Perla H. Huerta, a former combat doctor and US Army counterintelligence officer living in Tampa.
The New York Times reported Sunday night that a Venezuelan immigrant who worked with Huerta to recruit immigrants confirmed her identity, and that a photo of her was found by a San Antonio immigrant who had unsuccessfully tried to register.
CNN reported that a friend of Huerta’s identified her in a photo provided by the immigrant. Photos of the woman – until now simply known as “Pella” – have been circulating as she allegedly recruited many of the 48 Venezuelan migrants outside a city-run shelter in downtown San Antonio and brought them to their homes. Moved to the La Quinta Inn before they were flown to upscale Massachusetts last month at the expense of Florida taxpayers.
The Bexar County Sheriff’s Office, which includes San Antonio, believes Huerta, 43, is a “stakeholder” in a criminal investigation into the incident, the San Antonio Express-News said on Monday, citing unnamed sources.
Sheriff’s Office spokesman Johnny Garcia said in a statement Monday that the office has not identified or identified anyone associated with the ongoing investigation. When asked about Huerta, Garcia told Express, “We have not publicly identified anyone.”
The Associated Press tried numerous phone numbers and emails to find potential matches for Perla H. Huerta or a possible relative, but got no response or the line was disconnected.
Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said he was investigating whether the immigrants were defrauded or whether the two flights last month violated any laws. Some immigrants said they were lured by McDonald’s gift cards and promises of jobs and housing that never materialized.
A U.S. Army spokesman, Madison Bonzo, confirmed to The Associated Press that one Perla H. Huerta left the military in August to work as a combat medic and work in counterintelligence. When she left the military and was deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and Djibouti, she held the rank of sergeant major.
DeSantis said he used contractors to operate, but declined to give details or contracts.
Huerta has been repeatedly recorded in public records as living in an apartment near the southern end of Wangan Boulevard. She bought the property in May 2019 for $335,000, according to Hillsborough property records. The address was also listed on her 2020 voter registration, when she registered without listing her party affiliation.
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Huerta also personally handled the state’s property insurance crisis, court records show. In 2020, she sued Southern Fidelity Property & Casualty Insurance, alleging her residence, the Bayshore Apartments, suffered “considerable damage” due to “sudden and unexpected water loss”, which she said the company failed to do. adequate coverage.
The latest filing in the court case is a notice that the Florida Department of Financial Services is working to liquidate Southern Fidelity Insurance Company — one of several Florida insurers that went bankrupt this year.
Cardboard boxes were seen inside when a woman wearing a real estate company shirt opened the door to a Tampa Bay Times reporter at a Bayshore apartment on Tuesday.
The woman did not provide any information about the house or if she knew Huerta. She did say that no one is currently living in the house. When reporters asked her name, she closed the door.
The property has been listed on real estate website Zillow for nearly 100 days. The listing shows the home has three bedrooms and three bathrooms and is 1,617 square feet. It has a list price of $489,000.
The townhouse is located in the Ballast Point community, a few blocks south of the intersection of Bayshore’s iconic waterfront and Gandy Boulevard. Heavy traffic moved north along the narrow road, under the canopy of tree branches, on Tuesday afternoon.
A car with a Texas license plate was parked near the apartment on Tuesday afternoon.
A man inside walks out to meet a new woman. Neither identified themselves nor said whether they knew Huerta. Both walked back to the house and later left in two separate vehicles, both with Florida license plates. This woman has a New England Patriots bumper sticker on her Jeep Wrangler.
While they were all inside, a real estate agent with a client interested in the house came.
The man, who did not give his name, said he did not know Huerta or the history of the property.
Times political editor Emily Mahoney contributed to this report.