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: illegal alien transport

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.

30 Alien Smugglers Arrested by ICE in Southern Texas

A total of 28 individuals were arrested Tuesday, September 18, 2012, with 12 being federally charged with alien transportation and harboring, announced U.S. Attorney Robert Pitman, Western District of Texas and U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magdison, Southern District of Texas. This case is being investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), with the assistance of U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Border Patrol.

In San Antonio, a nine-count federal grand jury indictment returned Sept.12 and unsealed Tuesday, September 18, 2012, charges the 12 in custody and eight other defendants with conspiring between September 2011 and August 2012 to transport and harbor undocumented aliens for financial gain. Other charges in the indictment include aiding and abetting the harboring of aliens; aiding or assisting an aggravated felon to enter the United States; transporting aliens for financial gain and placing in jeopardy the life of persons; and transporting aliens for financial gain.

“Today’s criminal charges are the result of the tireless efforts of HSI special agents, CBP Border Patrol partners and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to investigate and arrest those involved in the illicit and dangerous activity of human smuggling,” said Jerry Robinette, special agent in charge of HSI San Antonio. “The results today will have an impact on an organization that has endangered its human cargo and has shown very little restraint as to what extremes they will go to make a profit. HSI strongly discourages and warns people from becoming a victim and attempting to illegally enter the United States. Tragically, many have lost their lives while attempting this illegal and treacherous trip.”

“Cooperation and coordination among all law enforcement agencies is key to disrupting transnational criminal organizations and keeping our border communities safe. Today is a perfect example of what unity of effort and a whole-of-government approach means in combatting transnational criminal organizations and ultimately keeping the American public safe. Customs and Border Protection in South Texas continues to strengthen partnerships, conduct joint operations and share information with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies,” stated CBP South Texas Commander Robert L. Harris.

According to court documents, authorities allege that the defendants, with reckless disregard for human life, used stolen vehicles to transport more than 100 undocumented aliens from Laredo to staging areas in San Antonio.

The following individuals were arrested in San Antonio Tuesday, September 18, 2012: April Gaitan, 26; Armando Gaitan, 29; Sonia Campos-Delgado, 34; and Florencio Vaquez, 25. The following two defendants were arrested in Del Valle, Texas, outside of Austin: Carlos Rocha Leos, 35, and Sergio Israel Leos, 19.

Arrested in Laredo were Ivan Martinez and Elvia Vasquez-Morales, 38. The following four additional defendants were already in custody on other charges: Everlin Moreno-Mejia, 22; Luis Aguirre-Guerrero, 25; and Juan Manuel Vasquez-Laris, 26.

Eight defendants in this indictment remain fugitives, including ringleader Fernando Martinez-Magana, 40, aka “Dieciseis” aka “Zeta 16” aka “Don Fernando,” of Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico.

A separate, but related, indictment was also returned in the Laredo Division of the Southern District of Texas Sept. 11, which alleges that between June 30 and Dec. 31, 2011, several individuals conspired to transport and move illegal aliens who had come to, entered and remained in the United States. The sealed indictment was partially unsealed today following the arrests of 16 charged in the case. The indictment remains sealed for those not yet in custody.

Upon conviction of the conspiracy charge, the defendants face up to 20 years imprisonment. The remaining charges call for either 20-year or 10-year maximum terms of imprisonment upon conviction.

An indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.