DOJ Seal Department of Justice  

United States Attorney John M. Bales
Eastern District of Texas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                               CONTACT:  DAVILYN WALSTON
FRIDAY, MAY 8, 2009                                                          PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER
WWW.USDOJ.GOV/USAO/txe                         PHONE: (409) 839-2538 CELL: (409) 553-9881

 

ALIEN SMUGGLING RING BUSTED IN NORTHEAST TEXAS

 

            SHERMAN, TX – U.S. Attorney John M. Bales announced today that 27 individuals have been arrested on charges of alien smuggling in the Eastern District of Texas.

            During the arrests on May 6th, approximately $40,000 to $50,000 was seized from bank accounts, safe deposit boxes, and miscellaneous cash found at suspected stash houses and on individuals.  Law enforcement officers were also able to confiscate 8 firearms, ammunition, and 13 vehicles believed to have been used in the illegal activities. 

            "This enforcement activity will serve two very significant purposes – disrupting and ultimately destroying these particular human smuggling operations," said U.S. Attorney Bales.  "Equally important," he continued, "the case signals our continued vigilance to protect America’s borders as well as discourage a form of criminal activity which preys on the desperation of other people.  I wish to commend the outstanding investigative efforts of the ICE agents involved in this case."
           
            “This ongoing ICE investigation targets multiple alien smuggling organizations, many of them based in Dallas,” said John Chakwin Jr., special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Dallas.  “These organizations are notorious for their greed, and for their total disregard for human life.  This operation is shutting down these organizations by arresting the smugglers and seizing their assets.”  Chakwin oversees 128 counties in north Texas and the State of Oklahoma.

             These arrests are the result of a two-year investigation into an alien smuggling ring operating within the Eastern District of Texas.  The investigation, which began in 2007, targeted a conspiracy between individuals suspected of transporting between 500 and 1,000 undocumented aliens per month within the United States, harboring them in stash-houses, and shielding them from detection.  These individuals are also believed to have conducted significant financial transactions with the proceeds of these illegal activities.  It is alleged that the undocumented aliens were charged between $1,500 and $2,500 each to be brought into the United States and then transported to their final destinations.  The organization used load vehicles, such as minivans and work vans, modified to transport multiple undocumented aliens at once. 

            A two-count federal indictment was returned by the grand jury on Apr. 8, 2009, charging multiple defendants with conspiracy to transport and harbor illegal aliens and conspiracy to commit money laundering.  The following individuals have been arrested and indicted with 16 of them making Initial Appearances on May 7th before U.S. Magistrate Judge Amos L. Mazzant:
    

Defendants Arrested:                            Age     Residence                  Counts        IA 5/7            
                                     
Ruben Olivares-Gonzalez                 38        Dallas                        1, 2                  *
Carlos Espinoza-Lagunas                 39        Garland                      1                      *
Alejandro Rodriguez-Flores             37        Dallas                         1, 2                  *
Silvano Trujillo-Gomez                     33        Dallas                         1, 2                  *
Misael Ramirez                                37        Dallas                         1                      *
Valentina Campuzano-Aviles          33        Dallas                          1, 2                  *
Leonel Carachure-Lopez                 44                                           1, 2                 
Arturo Montes-Flores                     51        Dallas                          1                     
Alfonso Echeverria-Aguirre            45                                           1, 2                  *
Israel Miranda-Sevilla                    26                                           1, 2                 
Lourdes Benitez-Bahena                 23                                           1, 2                  *
Gerardo Hernandez-Mejia              28                                           1                      *
Jorge Alberto Cubas                        43                                           1                      *
Felipe Garnica-Garcia                     26                                           1
Oscar Arizmendi-Escobar                22                                           1
Celio Torres-Linares                        31                                           1                      *
Eleuterio Otlica-Balderrabano         38                                           1                      *
Osiris Montoya-Guadarrama           22                                           1                      *
Gilberto Ortiz-Trujillo                       24                                           1
Reymundo Mendoza-Trejo              30                                            1
Galdino Tomas-Dionicio                   38                                            1                      *
Jose Aviles-Estrada                          39        Mesquite, TX               1                      *
Aurelio Garduno-Martinez                25                                           1
Jose Gonzalez-Vega                          24                                            1
Pedro Doroteo-Sostenes                   27                                            1
Ezequiel Rocco-Mondragon             25                                            1
David Garcia-Sotelo                         26                                            1                      *

            If convicted, defendants face 10 years in federal prison for conspiracy to transport illegal aliens (Count 1) and up to 20 years in federal prison for conspiracy to commit money laundering (Count 2). 

            This case is being investigated by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office of Investigations and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stevan A. Buys, Maureen Smith, and Jay Johnson. 

            A grand jury indictment is not evidence of guilt.  All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

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