The mysterious woman known as “Perla” who allegedly deceived migrants into boarding Governor Ron DeSantis’s stunt flights to Martha’s Vineyard has been identified as former U.S. Army combat medic and counterintelligence officer Perla Huerta, CNN and The The New York Times report.
Many of the 50 migrants sent to Martha’s Vineyard as part of a potentially illegal political stunt by DeSantis were allegedly approached outside of the San Antonio migrant resource center by a woman named “Perla,” who promised the migrants transportation to cities like New York and Boston, as well as resources like housing, food, and cash assistance if they signed on to the transport. Some of the migrants who agreed were held in a motel for days until Perla and her associates had secured enough volunteers for the flight.
According to the Times, Perla was photographed by various migrants she approached outside the shelter, where she had also enlisted other migrants to aid her in gathering volunteers for the flights. Those photos were passed along to attorneys representing the migrants who would eventually be abandoned by flight organizers on Martha’s Vineyard, who matched them to social media images of Perla Huerta, a Tampa, Florida, resident.
An Army spokesperson confirmed to CNN that Huerta spent more than two decades as “a Combat Medic Specialist (68W) and Counterintelligence Agent (35L) in the regular Army from April 2002 to August 2022,” and had achieved the rank of master sergeant. It is still unclear how Huerta is connected to or being compensated by the Florida government, who has claimed responsibility for the flights.
One migrant assisting Huerta, who spoke to the Times on conditions of anonymity said Huerta never revealed her relationship to the Florida government, claiming he was also deceived by Huerta into harming the people he intended to help. “If I had known, I would not have gotten involved,” he said.
A group of the migrants who fell victim to the scheme have filed a class-action lawsuit against DeSantis and various members of the Florida government, as well as the woman previously known as “Defendant Doe 1,” now identified as Perla Huerta.