Making Immigration Happen
Chicago Woman Arrested for Selling Fraudulent Identity Documents to Illegal Aliens
A woman was arrested Wednesday, February 13, 2013, on charges she allegedly sold fraudulent identity documents to illegal aliens. These charges resulted from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigra

Tag Archives: hostage

4 Arrested for Massive Human Smuggling Ring

Four Mexican nationals were charged Tuesday, September 25, 2012, in federal court in a massive human smuggling case that resulted in the rescue of 82 illegal aliens in a Houston residence, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas.

The investigation is being conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Houston Police Department.

The criminal complaint, filed Tuesday, September 25, 2012, charges the following four men with harboring, transporting, and conspiracy to harbor and transport illegal aliens: Luis Trejo-Onofre, 30, Jose Santos-Solorzano, 24, Jose Victor Perez-Olivas, 42, and Gumecindo Jaime-Martinez, 37. They are expected to make their initial appearances before U.S. Magistrate Judge George C. Hanks Wednesday.

On Sept. 18, a Nicaraguan national flagged down a Houston police officer to report that her 17-year-old daughter was being held by an alien smuggling organization that was allegedly extorting additional smuggling fees as a condition of her release. The woman, who had traveled from San Antonio to pick up her daughter from the smuggling organization, was allegedly directed to wire an additional $1,700 to Jalisco, Mexico, via Western Union. According to the complaint, the smugglers told her she better deposit the money if she wanted to see her daughter again.

After several calls, the alleged smuggler told the woman to meet at a local drug store at the intersection of Gessner and Interstate 10, and he would let her have her daughter for $1,500, according to the complaint. An undercover special agent accompanied the woman to the meeting and observed the girl in the suspects’ vehicle. Soon after, special agents and officers blocked the vehicle and activated emergency lights and sirens. The complaint indicates Trejo-Onofre and Santos-Solorzano were in the two front seats, but refused to open the doors and rammed one of the vehicles surrounding them.

HSI special agents broke one of the car windows, rescued the girl, and took the suspects into custody. The minor female stated that she was held along with several other illegal aliens, including children, who were allegedly being held by armed smugglers and were often mistreated.

The residence was soon located on the 3400 block of Boxelder in Houston. HSI special agents observed and followed Perez-Olivas as he left to purchase food at a local store and then returned to the residence. Special agents and officers then began to secure the residence and identify those inside.

According to the complaint, most of the male subjects being held in the house were only wearing underwear. One of the agents recognized Perez-Olivas among the group whom several of the aliens pointed out as a smuggler as well as Jaime-Martinez.

Some of the aliens identified the four charged and their alleged actions. The complaint also includes allegations that some of the aliens were hit, kicked, punched and some were locked in a closet for long periods of time and fed minimally. The alleged smugglers, some of whom carried weapons according to the complaint, also ordered some of the aliens to remove their clothing.

Eighty-two aliens were being held in the house from six different countries; eight were juveniles. At the time of the arrests, several weapons were also seized.

If convicted, each of the men charged faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Doug Davis and Celia Moyer, Southern District of Texas, are prosecuting the case.

A criminal complaint is an accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process of law.

Two Criminal Aliens Sentenced for Alien Smuggling and Hostage Taking

An illegal alien from Mexico was sentenced Tuesday, September 25, 2012, to 36 months in prison for harboring illegal aliens, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas. The investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Houston Police Department (HPD).

Carlos Martinez-Aguilar, 44, was sentenced Sept. 25 to three years in prison. Events leading to his arrest began Aug. 19, 2011, when the Houston Emergency Center received a 911 call at its operations facility from a subject who spoke only Spanish. The victim advised he was being held against his will at a house in Houston by alien smugglers who had been hired to smuggle him to an unspecified location in the United States. He claimed another person, later identified as Cesar Avila, 38, an illegal alien from Honduras, was armed with a handgun and had threatened to kill them. The victim indicated that he and others feared for their lives.

The 911 call was traced to a residence located on the 100 block of Jamaica Street in Houston by HPD officers. The building had no windows and the French doors on the north side of the residence had its glass panes covered with aluminum foil. Once inside, several people, later identified as hostages, began covertly pointing to Avila as the hostage taker and smuggler. Officers also discovered a semi-automatic handgun and a ledger detailing payments by the smuggling organization under the mattress where Avila was sitting.

Several of the aliens held hostage identified Martinez-Aguilar as having come into the building where they were being held, drinking beer with Avila prior to law enforcement arriving, and inquiring about the status of payments of smuggling fees. The victims indicated Martinez-Aguilar was not involved in abusing or threatening them and had provided them food and blankets. Officers discovered Martinez-Aguilar had been living in the larger house in front of the building where the aliens were housed.

Another victim stated that prior to the arrival of the police, he and the others were being held against their will and threatened with death if they did not pay or arrange to have paid another $5,000 to the smugglers.

Martinez-Aguilar pleaded guilty Jan. 31. Avila was convicted by a Houston jury June 6 and is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 9, at which time he faces up to life in prison.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Julie Searle and Doug Davis, Southern District of Texas, prosecuted the case.

Honduran National Arrested for Alien Hostage Taking

A Honduran man was convicted Wednesday, June 6, 2012, of hostage taking and other
related crimes, announced U. S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas. The investigation was conducted by the Houston Police Department (HPD), and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Cesar Avila, 35, an illegal alien from Honduras, was convicted of the following charges: four counts of hostage taking, one count of using a firearm during a crime of violence, and four counts of aiding and abetting harboring illegal aliens. The convictions followed a three-day jury trial before U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal.

Testimony during the trial showed that the HoustonĀ Emergency Center received a 911 call Aug. 19, 2011 at its operations facility from a subject who spoke only Spanish. The victim stated that he was being held against his will at a house in Houston by alien smugglers who had been hired to smuggle him to an unspecified location in the United States.
He claimed Avila was armed with a handgun and had threatened the smuggled aliens with death, and they feared for their lives.

The Houston residence was eventually located on the 100 block of Jamaica Street by HPD officers. The residence had no windows, and the French doors on the north side had the glass panes covered with aluminum foil.

Once law enforcement entered the residence, several people, later identified as hostages, pointed to Avila as the hostage taker and smuggler. Officers also discovered a semi-automatic handgun and a ledger detailing payments by the smuggling organization under the mattress where Avila was sitting.

One smuggled alien advised officers he had been in the Houston area for about eight days and had been moved from house to house with five other aliens. He admitted he was in
the country illegally, and that he paid smugglers $5,000 to smuggle him into the United States. He identified Avila as the man who was holding him. He said Avila was armed with a handgun and had threatened to kill him if he tried to escape. Further testimony revealed that the smugglers threatened to kill him if his family did not pay an additional $5,000.

The mother of a smuggled alien testified that smugglers contacted her and her
family to demand more money. They threatened her son’s life, and the life of her family, if the additional money was not paid. She was so frightened she contacted police who conducted surveillance to protect them. Her daughter also testified that the family raised money by borrowing it from friends and sent as much money as they could via wire transfer to the smugglers in Mexico.

Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 9. Avila faces up to life in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Julie Searle and Douglas Davis, Southern District of Texas,
prosecuted the case.