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Dec. 8, 2010

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(HOUSTON) – Amancio Aburto-Gamino and Gabriel Guzman-Villa, both illegal aliens from Mexico, were sentenced today by United States District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal to 27 and 51 months imprisonment, respectively, for conspiring to transport and harbor an illegal alien within the United States resulting in his death, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today.

Aburto-Gamino, 48, and Guzman-Villa, 28, pleaded guilty to the felony immigration offense on June 16, 2010. At that hearing, the government summarized the evidence for the court against these two defendants which established that relatives and friends of the victim received a series of phone calls from alien smugglers demanding the payment of smuggling fees for him and also informing them that he was very ill. On April 27, 2009, the Brazoria County Sheriff’s Office responded to a call that a body had been found in Brazoria County and upon inspecting the body, a Honduran driver’s license was found identifying the deceased.

Special agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement – Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI) initiated an investigation based on information gleaned from phone numbers utilized by the smugglers and established surveillance at a trailer park in the 13000 block of Hooper in Harris County, Texas. A traffic stop of a vehicle leaving one of the trailers was conducted and agents made contact with co-defendant, Mary Jesse Cuadros, who gave consent for the agents to search her trailer. While waiting for agents to return from the location of the traffic stop with Cuadros, an agent maintaining surveillance at her residence saw Aburto-Gamino and another co-defendant Lucero Aburto arrive in a vehicle at the location. Aburto, having received a phone call from Cuadros that agents were on the way, ran into the trailer intending to warn the occupants. Agents placed Aburto-Gamino and Aburto under arrest.

Inside the trailer, agents discovered a “pollo” list, a slang term employed in describing ledgers used by alien smugglers to keep information regarding smuggled aliens, contact numbers to obtain smuggling fees and fees paid to the smugglers. The list contained the names of 27 illegally smuggled aliens. A pistol and numerous cell phones were also discovered.

Agents also obtained consent from Cuadros to search a second trailer and there discovered trash bags and maroon curtains which matched those used to wrap the body of the victim.

Subsequent interviews with several of the defendants determined that the victim was brought to the location by an unidentified smuggler and that he was extremely ill on arrival. Aburto purchased a drink for the victim who drank it, went into a bathroom, collapsed and died. An autopsy conducted later by the Galveston County Medical Examiner’s Office was unable to determine the cause of death.

Through the interviews with the aliens, Guzman-Villa was identified as having been involved in the alien smuggling business for at least two years with his wife, Cuadros, and stepfather, Aburto-Gamino, and that it was Guzman-Villa who dumped the body of the victim on the side of the road.

Cuadros has already pleaded guilty to the conspiracy and is scheduled for sentencing on Jan. 13, 2011, at which time she faces up to life imprisonment and not more than a fine of $250,000. Aburto was charged with misprision of a felony and was sentenced on Aug. 20, 2010, to time served - approximately 15 months imprisonment - and faces deportation proceedings. Both Aburto-Gamino and Guzman-Villa will face deportation proceedings upon completion of their sentences.

The case was investigated by agents of ICE-HSI with the assistance of the Houston Police Department and Brazoria County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney Doug Davis is prosecuting the case.


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