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July 15, 2009

MEN PLEAD GUILTY IN ALIEN SMUGGLING CONSPIRACY

(HOUSTON) – Anselmo Gonzalez-Mendoza, 32, Epifanio Gonzalez-Mendoza, 26, and Leonel Gonzalez-Mendoza, 20, all of Mexico, entered pleas of guilty before United States District Court Judge David Hitttner today for conspiring to harbor and transport illegal aliens within the United States for financial gain, United States Attorney Tim Johnson announced today. 

The three defendants were indicted together with Agustin Gonzalez-Mendoza and Rogelio Gonzalez-Mendoza for conspiracy to harbor and transport illegal aliens within the United States for financial gain. Both men earlier pleaded guilty to the offense, admitting their participation in the conspiracy which occurred in March 2009.

On March 15, 2009, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) received a 911 call from a person who said that his father was being held against his will by alien smugglers at a residence in the 14000 block of Hillsboro in Houston. Deputies responded and in a security sweep of the residence discovered three firearms and 22 illegal aliens, including all of the defendants.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents interviewed the person who initiated the 911 call and found that the reportee’s family had paid the alien smugglers $1,000 to have the reportee’s father smuggled from San Antonio to Houston, subsequent to his having been smuggled from Mexico, but on arrival in Houston, the smugglers demanded an additional $2,000 payment. Unable to pay the fee and fearing for his father’s safety, the reportee called the HCSO. Several of the smuggled aliens identified the various defendants as having acted as guards, making phone calls to collect smuggling fees and transporting various smuggled aliens to different destinations.

Co-conspirators Rogelio and Agustin Gonzalez-Mendoza are scheduled for sentencing on Sept. 21 and Aug. 29, 2009, respectively. Anselmo, Epifanio and Leonel Gonzalez-Mendoza are scheduled for sentencing on Oct. 16, 2009. The defendants are facing a maximum 10 years imprisonment and up to a $250,000 fine. All of the defendants, who are related to one another, are also subject to deportation upon completion of any sentence imposed.

This case was investigated by ICE with assistance from the HCSO. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Douglas Davis.

 

 

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