Man claims smugglers who got him across US-Mexico border told him to rob Florida home, police say

A man arrested in Florida for trying to stab a woman during a home invasion says he was given orders to steal to help repay a debt he owed to smugglers who got him into the U.S. illegally, according to a police report.

The 32-year-old claims to have crossed the U.S.-Mexico border after traveling from Guatemala and was still in custody Tuesday at the Lake County Jail on an ICE detainer following the weekend incident in Mascotte, records show.

“The traffickers armed him with two knives and told him that if things did not go as planned, he was to either run out of the house or take someone’s life to ensure he carries out the mission,” a police report obtained by Fox News states.

Mascotte Chief of Police Eric Pedersen told Fox News he was informed by the Border Patrol Tuesday morning that the name the suspect gave investigators, Samuel Hernandez, was false, and that he could be facing more charges. He has already been charged with attempted murder and home invasion robbery carrying a deadly weapon, amongst other allegations, and his bond has been set at $330,000.

The woman, whose identity has been kept private, said she was watching television in bed Saturday night when the intruder broke into her home.

“She watched as the bedroom door slowly opened approximately 10 inches then was suddenly shut,” the police report said. “A few seconds later, the door was pushed wide open as she witnessed an unfamiliar male standing at the doorway, holding a large knife. She screamed loudly as the male charged at her.”

The woman suffered cuts to her hands as she tried to prevent herself from being stabbed in the chest, police say. Her husband then chased the intruder out of the room.

“He fell down the stairs and my brother-in-law was right here and started punching him and that’s when he let the knife go and my husband came downstairs and they had him until the cops came,” the woman told FOX35 Orlando.

Following his arrest, police say the man, in Spanish, told officers that he entered the U.S. with 15 other blindfolded men to “pursue a better life.”

“He met some male individuals in Mexico who offered to smuggle him into the country for 10,000 Mexican pesos [$522],” the police report quoted the suspect as stating. “The individuals told him that if he did not have the money that he can work for them in lieu of paying the money. He was told it was a secured job in the United States but was not given any details regarding the type of work.”

The report later said the “traffickers dropped him off at this address” and the suspect was “given a task to enter a home and to take anything of value.” He used one of the knives to cut through a patio screen door, it added.

The victim also told FOX35 Orlando that the suspect “was talking in Spanish saying that somebody sent him.”

Mascotte Police, though, believe the man could be fabricating some parts of his story.

“I spoke to the investigating officer and he’s indicated to me that he’s not really sure,” Pederson told Fox News. He noted an Immigration and Customs Enforcement official told an investigator that the agency is looking into whether the suspect has a work visa.

“We are not positive yet – we have our doubts,” he added.

However, Pederson commended the husband and brother-in-law for springing into action.

“Her husband and the other occupant in the house took care of business,” he told Fox News. “There’s no telling what that guy would have done.”

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