A second flight of migrants touched down in Sacramento Monday, just days after a charter plane dropped more than a dozen South American migrants off there last week. This time, 20 people were on board, the California attorney general’s office confirmed to local news station KCRA 3.
Monday’s flight path was the same as Friday’s flight—taking off from El Paso, Texas, with a pit stop in Deming, New Mexico, before landing in Sacramento.
California officials are continuing to investigate the source of both flights, but California Attorney General Rob Bonta said he believes Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is behind them.
“From what we can tell, it was all part of the same scheme, the same official policy of the state of Florida whereby the state of Florida used public tax dollars to fund this program, the so-called voluntary transportation program,” Bonta told KCRA 3.
The documents were the same documents identified in the migrants from Friday, as per a statement issued over the weekend. Bonta said those documents linked them to the state of Florida, which he claimed “hired a private vendor, called Vertol Systems Inc. to carry out and implement the official program.”
Vertol Systems is the same company DeSantis used to fly migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard last year.
“This isn’t Martha’s Vineyard,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a tweet Monday, where he called DeSantis a “small, pathetic man.” Bonta followed, posting: “State-sanctioned kidnapping is immoral.”
Bonta also implied that the migrants on both flights were mislead about what was waiting for them after they landed.
“We’ve learned that many of them were told that Vertol Systems would help them find jobs if they got on the plane and traveled to where there were being taken,” he said. “We learned that many of them didn’t know where they were being taken and didn’t know where they were until they arrived.”
Bonta said the state is conducting a full investigation before the possibility of levying potential criminal charges against those responsible.
“We’re still identifying all of the different facts and the legal justification that would be justified by them,” he said. “Key elements are individuals moved under duress or deception or misrepresentation, being lied to.”
He added that kidnapping could be among the possible charges.
Speaking to Jim Acosta on CNN Monday, Bonta said the migrants were “given false promises” and “they were manipulated, mistreated, abused and exploited.”
“We believe that the state of Florida, Governor DeSantis is behind it,” he said. “Governor DeSantis has demonstrated his pettiness, his lack of substance, his xenophobia and his discrimination and racism and willingness to treat human beings, people, as political pawns. It’s wrong, and we are getting to the bottom of it.”
According to flight records, both planes were operated by Berry Aviation, a charter service based in San Marcos, Texas. A company rep told The Sacramento Bee earlier this week that Friday’s flight was “something that the government ran,” but wouldn’t get into specifics.
“This is black and white,” Bonta said. “Those behind these actions are morally bankrupt. It is disgusting. It is reprehensible. It is unacceptable.”
DeSantis has not commented either way on the latest flights, he has neither confirmed or denied the state’s involvement.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Monday that the administration was “in close touch with state officials.”
It comes after a Texas sheriff’s department recommended criminal charges after investigating DeSantis’ migrant relocation operation that sent Venezuelan migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard on two flights last year.
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