The 48 migrants that were flown to an affluent Massachusetts enclave were recruited by a woman sent from named Perla Huerta, the New York Times reported.
Huerta, previously only known by her first name, was the point person sent from Florida who investigators believe solicited migrants in San Antonio to join flights headed toward Martha’s Vineyard, a person familiar with the San Antonio sheriff’s office investigation told the Times.
According to military records reviewed by the Times, Huerta previously served as a combat medic and counterintelligence agent for two decades in the U.S. Army that included deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.
When the migrants landed in Martha’s Vineyard, confusion swirled throughout the island’s residents and the migrants themselves as to where, why and how they found themselves there.
One migrant, Carlos Guanaguanay, told the Times that they "were tricked," into the flights.
Follow the flight: Florida Gov. DeSantis flew 50 migrants from Texas to Martha's Vineyard
The migrants said they were approached by a woman who only identified herself by her first name as "Perla." They said she promised free housing and jobs if they jointed the flights.
Huerta provided the migrants with food and housing prior to the flight. When the migrants landed, they had red folders that contained a map of the U.S. pointing to Massachusetts and a fake trifold pamphlet titled “Refugee Migrant Benefits.”
In a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of the migrants, the materials were described as “official-looking,” and were not prepared by any Massachusetts state agency.
When the two flights landed in Martha’s Vineyard mid-September, Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis quickly took credit for chartering the flights.
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DeSantis’ move follows similar actions taken by Republican Govs. Greg Abbott of Texas and Doug Ducey of Arizona, who started state-funded programs to bus migrants to major metro cities run by Democrats to draw attention to the migrant crisis at the southern border.
Political opponents have criticized the moves as political stunts. President Joe Biden said, "Republicans are playing politics with human beings,” and using migrants as “props.”
Authorities in Massachusetts also requested the Department of Justice to open a formal investigation into whether the flights could be considered instances of human trafficking.
Some of the migrants, when they landed on Martha’s Vineyard, told USA TODAY they felt “misled” and lied to about the conditions of their flight.
'I simply feel misled': Migrants flown to Martha's Vineyard speak out
Prior to the Times’ reporting, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the oldest and largest Latino civil rights organization, put out a $5,000 reward for anyone who could provide information leading to Huerta, who was only known at the time as Perla.
“Clearly, her actions were to use lies to lure men and women into being used as political piñatas without their knowledge," said national president of LULAC, Domingo Garcia, told the Cape Cod Times.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Migrants were 'tricked' into flights to Martha's Vineyard: report