News and Press Releases

REPEAT ALIEN SMUGGLER SENTENCED TO 15 YEARS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 21, 2011

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Michael Shea, Acting Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI), Miami Field Office, Rear Admiral William D. Baumgartner, Commander, 7th Coast Guard District, and Randy Donnelson, Director of Air Operations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Miami Field Office, announced the sentencing of defendant Hector Pena, 45, of Miami, on charges of smuggling illegal aliens into the United States. U.S. District Court Judge Jose E. Martinez sentenced Pena to 15 years in prison, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release.

Pena pled guilty on April 25, 2011 to all counts of a Superseding Information, charging him with multiple counts of conspiracy to encourage and induce aliens, including at least one minor, to enter the United States, knowing or in reckless disregard that such coming and entry was in violation of law. Pena was also charged with multiple counts of attempting to bring in illegal aliens into the United States for personal profit. The charges stemmed from a December 27, 2010 smuggling attempt, in which Pena and others were interdicted at sea 18 nautical miles west of Miami, carrying 17 Cuban migrants on board.

Pena was also involved in various other alien smuggling operations. For example, Pena was described as an organizer of a conspiracy to smuggle for profit more than 30 Cuban migrants into the United States in September 2008, resulting in the death of one of the migrants. This smuggling venture involved multiple boats. During the failed smuggling operation, the lead boat, which was overloaded with migrants, attempted to out-run the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Pea Island. During the chase, one of the migrants suffered head trauma. Notwithstanding the efforts of Coast Guard and other rescue personnel, the migrant died from his injuries.

At sentencing, Pena was held responsible for his participation in five separate alien smuggling ventures between September 2008 and December 2010.

Mr. Ferrer commended ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Coast Guard, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection for their work on this matter. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Cristina Pérez Soto and Elisa Castrolugo.

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A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

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