Jan. 29, 2009
MEMBERS OF TRANSPORTATION CELL RESPONSIBLE FOR SMUGGLING UNDOCUMENTED ALIENS SENTENCED TO PRISON
(LAREDO, Texas) – The Leader of a conspiracy responsible for smuggling more than 70 undocumented aliens from Laredo in commercial tractor-trailers has been sentenced to 115 months in prison, acting United States Attorney Tim Johnson announced today. U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez sentenced the leader, Mauricio Javier LaGrange, 42, of Laredo, and others yesterday with the final member of the conspiracy sentenced today.
LaGrange, also known as “Mano” and “Mono,” was arrested by agents of the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on June 24, 2008, following an investigation into an alien smuggling organization that recruited commercial truck drivers to transport undocumented aliens inside trailer boxes. The investigation revealed that LaGrange and his accomplices recruited truck drivers at local motels and truck stops to smuggle undocumented aliens for approximately $500 per alien. Part of LaGrange’s recruiting efforts included supplying truck drivers with drugs and women, in addition to the lure of thousands of dollars in easy money. The judge found LaGrange was responsible for leading and organizing the loading of at least 78 aliens in five separate incidents. ICE agents estimate that LaGrange’s organization had been operated in Laredo for several years. Judge Alvarez sentenced LaGrange yesterday to 115 months and a $2500 fine.
Terry Allen Hypes, 39, from Illinois, was the last sentenced, receiving a 20-month term today for transporting seven aliens himself and assisting others in LaGrange’s organization. In addition to LaGrange and Hypes, four other drivers of each smuggling load were arrested and pleaded guilty pursuant to plea agreements on Aug. 13, 2008. Robert Lee Rhudy, 48, from Arkansas, was sentenced yesterday to 24 months for transporting 24 undocumented aliens. Eugene Sanders, a 37-year old truck driver from Kentucky, was sentenced yesterday to 78 months and ordered to pay a $2500 fine for his involvement in smuggling a total of 37 undocumented aliens for LaGrange in three different occasions. Randy Boyd Hopkins, 45, from Oklahoma, was previously sentenced to 14 months for transporting 10 undocumented aliens. All defendants face an additional three-year-term of supervised release following their term of incarceration, with no possibility of parole.
This case was investigated by ICE and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Diana Song.
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