(CNN) — “Perla,” the woman who allegedly helped organize immigrant flights from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, has been identified by CNN as Perla Huerta.
In mid-September, some 50 migrants were flown from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard on two planes arranged by Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis as part of his criticism of the federal government’s immigration and border security policies. The majority of asylum seekers are known to be from Venezuela.
A migrant who had been living on the streets of San Antonio, Texas, told CNN that a woman named “Perla” offered him clothes, food and money in exchange for finding other people who would take a flight to Massachusetts.
The New York Times reported that other migrants identified Huerta from photos they took of her in San Antonio, according to Rachel Self, an attorney representing the migrants.
A friend of Huerta’s also confirmed to CNN that the woman seen in a photo provided to CNN by a migrant is Huerta.
CNN has reached out to Huerta but has not yet received a response.
One migrant previously told CNN that he had been living on the streets of San Antonio for almost a month when he met a woman named “Perla” who offered him clothes, food and money. In exchange, he told CNN, he had to go out and find other immigrants to serve as passengers on flights to Massachusetts.
She gave him $10 McDonald’s gift cards to give to those immigrants who agreed to board the flights, telling him to say that they and their children would be well treated upon arrival.
“She had told me that the people who were going to Massachusetts, before I sent them, had told me that they were going to receive them. She was going to give them shelter, a place to stay. They were going to help them with the language, and those who had children, were going to study,” she said.
The recruiter spoke to CNN in his first televised interview and was granted anonymity to protect his safety. He provided CNN with Perla’s business card, text messages and audio messages to authenticate her story and provide an inside account of how the migrant flights came together on September 14.
Attorneys for the migrants filed a class action lawsuit, saying they were tricked into accepting the flights and told they would arrive to find housing, jobs and help with the immigration process. In fact, no one on Martha’s Vineyard knew they were coming, local officials said. The sheriff of Bexar County, Texas, which includes San Antonio, said his agency will open an investigation into the flights to see if any laws were broken.
For his part, the recruiter told CNN that he felt betrayed by Perla and decided to tell his side of the story, saying he was unaware of the deception.
“I never, ever knew he was a governor or a politician,” the recruiter said. “So my only will has always been to help people.”
The recruiter told CNN that he agreed to work with Perla to recruit the asylum seekers once he realized they were being provided with food and shelter in a hotel in San Antonio where they would stay for a few days before boarding flights.
“My only intention was to help people so they could have some stability,” he said. “She took them to a hotel. At the hotel I realized that they were being treated well”, they were even provided with food and clothing.
CNN’s Paul Murphy and Maria Santana contributed to this report.
Source: CNN Espanol