WASHINGTON – A Peruvian national and a Bahamian national pleaded guilty to smuggling undocumented migrants to the United States for private financial gain, Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton announced today.
Jessie Katherine Gonzales Urquizo, 37, a Peruvian national, and Irene Mildred Janette Burrows, 66, a Bahamian national, pleaded guilty on Jan. 11, 2013, before U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth A. Marra in the Southern District of Florida. Urquizo pleaded guilty to three counts and Burrows pleaded guilty to two counts, respectively, of bringing and attempting to bring aliens to the United States for commercial advantage and private financial gain.
According to plea documents, Urquizo and her mother-in-law, Burrows, facilitated the illegal smuggling of Brazilian nationals into the United States by working for a known alien smuggler in Brazil. Urquizo and Burrows provided lodging and transportation to undocumented migrants waiting on a boat to take them to the United States and charged between approximately $100 and $125 per day. According to court documents, Urquizo and Burrows received instructions from Brazil-based smugglers on when and where to deliver certain undocumented migrants to waiting boats for passage to the United States.
Urquizo and Burrows admitted that they brought undocumented migrants, all of whom are Brazilian nationals, to the United States for financial gain. Urquizo admitted to taking payment for lodging the undocumented migrants at various hotels and stash houses, including a nursing home operated by Burrows, her co-defendant and mother-in-law. Urquizo further admitted that she arranged for food to be taken to the undocumented migrants, transported the undocumented migrants to a waiting boat upon instructions from a known human smuggler in Brazil and demanded payment for her services. For her part, Burrows admitted to working with Urquizo, taking payment for lodging undocumented migrants at her nursing home and providing transportation.
At sentencing, scheduled for March 22, 2013, Urquizo faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, and Burrows faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Jay Bauer of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexandra Hui of the Southern District of Florida.