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Oct. 16, 2009


(HOUSTON) – Three Mexican nationals have been sentenced to prison for conspiring to harbor and transport illegal aliens within the United States for financial gain, United States Attorney Tim Johnson announced today. United States District Court Judge David Hittner sentenced Anselmo Gonzalez-Mendoza, 32, Epifanio Gonzalez-Mendoza, 26, and Leonel Gonzalez-Mendoza, 20, all of Mexico, each to 37 months in federal prison today in federal court in Houston.

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. Agustin Gonzalez-Mendoza and Rogelio Gonzalez-Mendoza were previously convicted and sentenced to 40 and 37 months imprisonment, respectively, after pleading guilty to the offense and admitting their participation in the conspiracy which occurred in March 2009. Anselmo, Epifanio, Leonel and Rogelio are all brothers and Agustin Gonzalez-Mendoza is their uncle.

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 his family had paid the alien smugglers $1,000 to have his father smuggled into the United States and brought to Houston. After being 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.

All five of the defendants charged and convicted in this case are illegally in the United States. They have been in custody without bond since their arrest on March 15 and 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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