A 39-year-old Mexican woman was approved for deportation proceedings Thursday in federal court in Great Falls.
Ma Mercedes Rivera-Gutierrez was sentenced to time served for illegal re-entry into the United States and transferred to the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement for deportation.
Rivera-Gutierrez admitted the charge in January under a plea deal. She was among a group of 19 people arrested Nov. 17, 2019, and taken to the Sweetgrass Border Patrol Station in Sunburst.
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The arrests stem from a hotel employee's tip to law enforcement about suspicious room rental activity at a Cut Bank hotel.
Four of the people in the group told investigators they had paid between $4,000 and $4,750 to be guided across the border, according to court filings by prosecutors.
Rivera-Gutierrez was previously removed from the country in 2001, 2007 and 2012. She has three dependents, court filings note.
Her attorney, Katie Ranta of Great Falls, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.