Photo: Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Photo: Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Second migrant plane lands in Sacramento. Newsom threatens DeSantis with legal action while a Texas sheriff files criminal charges against him

A second migrant plane arrived in Sacramento Monday after receiving one the previous Friday. DeSantis faces legal battles on two fronts.


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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has been silent in the wake of the blistering criticism that has come his way as well as the legal actions — and threats — taken against him and the Sunshine State for its alleged role in chartering a second migrant plane that arrived in Sacramento on Monday, June 6.

Another arrived a few days earlier on Friday. 

Despite the scathing scrutiny that followed the official statements from California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Attorney General Rob Bonta over the weekend that Florida had resumed its state-funded migrant relocation program, the 2024 Presidential hopeful has stayed mum as he’s been campaigning in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

The second flight carrying 20 migrants — 16 from Venezuela, two from Colombia, one from Nicaragua and one from Mexico, according to California’s Justice Department — landed Monday morning at Sacramento Executive Airport, where they were met by state law enforcement officials.

State authorities confirmed that migrants’ accompanying documents indicated that their trip was organized — but not yet confirmed — by the same company allegedly responsible for the Sacramento flight from Friday — Vertol Systems. 

They were also behind the orchestration of DeSantis’ first two migrant transportation plane charters that landed in Martha’s Vineyard last Fall. 

Like the migrants who arrived last Friday, the new group’s journey had begun in El Paso and they were flown to Sacramento from the same airport in New Mexico, according to the flight tracking website FlightAware. 

According to interviews conducted by The New York Times with some of Monday’s arrivals, they too were also approached by individuals outside an El Paso migrant facility and offered the plane ride to northern California under the false promise of obtaining work. 

The latest chapter in the feud between the two ideologically opposing governors drove Newsom to threaten his foe with legal action — on kidnapping charges. 

“[Ron DeSantis] you small, pathetic man,” the California governor wrote in a tweet Monday afternoon. “This isn’t Martha’s Vineyard. Kidnapping charges?” 

Newsom attached a link into the tweet that leads to California’s criminal code and official definition on kidnapping in the state, possibly referring to the fact that both groups of migrants to arrive did so under the false promise of amenities including work, shelter, and clothing. 

“Every person who forcibly, or by any other means of instilling fear, steals or takes, or holds, detains, or arrests any person in this state, and carries the person into another country, state, or county, or into another part of the same county, is guilty of kidnapping.” 

Newsom’s tweets follow statements from both he and Bonta over the weekend in which they said the state Department of Justice would be investigating who paid for the flights from Friday, and whether they had violated any criminal laws including kidnapping. 

The extent to which Newsom is willing to make true on his legal threats is unknown as he could risk being accused of using the situation that involves a highly vulnerable and marginalized population for staging a national verbal fight between the two governors. 

Kidnapping in California is punishable by a term of up to eight years in a state prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both imprisonment and a fine — an unlikely ending for DeSantis as a high-ranking official if Newsom were to pursue criminal action. 

And since kidnapping is considered a “serious felony,” any conviction counts as a “strike” on one's criminal record.

The arrival of the second plane on Monday also came as real legal threats were carried out.

The Bexar County Sheriff’s Office announced that they had completed its criminal case launched by County Sheriff Javier Salazar, an elected Democrat, into the flights chartered last September that transported 49 migrants from San Antonio to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. 

According to the statement from the sheriff’s office, they’ve filed several counts of unlawful restraint, both misdemeanors and felonies, but did not name any individual suspects or when specifically the investigation was turned over to the Bexar County district attorney, who is currently reviewing the case. 

The prosecutor will be responsible for pressing charges, if needed. The Martha’s Vineyard excursion resulted in lawsuits filed against DeSantis and the state. 

In Texas, unlawful restraint convictions can be classified as a Class A Misdemeanor with the penalty including up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $4,000. The charge is defined as someone who “commits an offense if he intentionally or knowingly restrains another person.”

In one of the lawsuits filed by a law firm representing some of the migrants, Perla Huerta, a former combat medic and counterintelligence agent in the U.S. Army gave food gift cards to over 50 migrants in San Antonio last Fall in exchange for their signature to board a flight to the east coast.

Many of the migrants who were Venezuelans, were given a list of organizations once they boarded that provided social services the individuals were not eligible for, according to the lawsuit.

Neither DeSantis nor any official from the Florida Division of Emergency Management, the state body overseeing the governor’s over $12 million tax-payer funded relocation plan, has yet to publicly comment on the matter, even after DeSantis appeared on a Fox News radio program on Monday morning. 


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