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Feb. 27, 2009

LAREDO WOMAN SENTENCED FOR LEADING ORGANIZATION RESPONSIBLE FOR SMUGGLING MORE THAN 100 UNDOCUMENTED ALIENS

(LAREDO, Texas) - Josefa Esther Galvan-De Luna, 55, of Laredo, Texas, has been sentenced to 63 months in prison for leading an extensive human smuggling organization responsible for smuggling more than 100 undocumented aliens from Laredo to other destinations in the U.S., acting United States Attorney Tim Johnson announced today. Galvan-De Luna will also pay a $28,000 fine.

United States District Judge Micaela Alvarez imposed the sentence at a hearing held on Thursday, Feb. 26, 2009.

Galvan-DeLuna is one of several persons, including her husband, Moises Carranza-Mata, 47, sentenced for their roles in Galvan-DeLuna's human smuggling operation on Thursday. The charges arose from an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) investigation initiated on Sept. 18, 2008, which disrupted the smuggling of a group of aliens being hidden in a tractor. This transaction was coordinated by Jaime Noel Sanchez. ICE agents followed Sanchez and his brother, Fernando Lucio, and another accomplice as they recruited a truck driver to a group of aliens in a tractor trailer in exchange for $600 per alien. Two vehicles were seen dropping off aliens at the location of a waiting tractor. One of the vehicles was connected to Galvan. As a result of their investigative efforts, agents obtained and executed a federal search warrant for Galvan’s residence located on the 300 block of Sendero Court in Laredo on Oct. 6, 2008. The search resulted in the discovery of approximately 100 Mexican identification documents, numerous “pollo” lists and ledgers, notebooks containing handwritten questions regularly asked by U.S. immigration officers at ports of entry and checkpoints, two firearms, $28,127 in US currency and two illegal aliens. 

At yesterday's sentencing hearing, an ICE special agent testified about the “one-stop-shop” nature of Galvan’s smuggling operation. Galvan had the necessary contacts in Mexico to funnel aliens along smuggling routes across the Rio Grande River into the United States. Once in the country, aliens were harbored at different locations, including Galvan’s residence. Galvan harbored aliens while awaiting the payment of smuggling fees by the alien’s family members or sponsors. While there, aliens were coached to answer questions typical of an immigration inspection. Galvan would later arrange for the transportation of the aliens past Border Patrol checkpoints around Laredo by hiring drivers and transporters such as Sanchez. 

In sentencing Galvan to 63 months imprisonment, the highest end of the recommended guideline range, U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez found that Galvan was a leader and organizer of an alien smuggling organization responsible for smuggling more than 100 aliens. ICE confirmed 135 distinct alien smuggling transactions attributable to Galvan totaling more than $300,000 in 2008 alone based on analysis of her ledgers, Western Union records and phone tolls. When Galvan expressed embarrassment about being in front of a judge in a criminal proceeding, Judge Alvarez responded that she was embarrassed only because her arrest uncovered her profitable illegal business.
    
Sanchez, 20, and Lucio, 25, were sentenced to 33 months and 21 months, respectively, for their roles in arranging the transportation of aliens. Carranza-Mata was sentenced to 30 months imprisonment for his role in the conspiracy as well. All defendants will serve a three-year term of supervised release following their term of incarceration and federal defendants are not eligible for parole. In addition, Galvan and her husband will face deportation proceedings upon their release from prison.

This case was investigated by ICE and prosecuted by Assistants United States Attorneys Diana Song and James Ustynoski.

 

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