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May 5, 2010

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(HOUSTON) – Two United States citizens and two Mexican nationals, including one legal permanent resident alien, are in federal custody charged in a conspiracy involving the transportation of undocumented aliens, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today.

Victor Manuel Campuzano, 23, Jaime Roman Bustamante, 27, both of Houston; Servando Alvarado-Casas, 29, a Mexican national illegally residing in Houston; and Miguel Alvarado-Casas, 36, a Mexican national legally residing in Houston, were all arrested today in Southwest Houston. Servando Alvarado-Casa was apprehended by agents after fleeing out a rear window of the residence. All four are charged in a partially unsealed criminal indictment in the Corpus Christi Division of the Southern District of Texas, returned on March 24, 2010, with a multi-year conspiracy involving the transportation of undocumented aliens. All four are scheduled to appear before a U.S. Magistrate later today or tomorrow before being transferred to Corpus Christi. The indictment remains sealed and warrants remain outstanding as to others charged but not yet in custody.

The charges stem from a Nov. 24, 2009, single vehicle accident in Jim Wells County that resulted in 17 undocumented aliens and the pickup truck driver being injured. The driver and two others, who allegedly drove a scout car traveling with the pickup truck, were arrested and charged in a separate case. The arrests in Houston today are the result of the continued investigation by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and United States Border Patrol to identify other alleged members of the smuggling organization. During today’s enforcement action, ICE was assisted by special agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives as well as the Houston Police Department. 

On Nov. 24, 2009, 17 undocumented aliens were injured after the pickup truck in which they were being transported left the roadway and drove through a fence before going over a 40-foot embankment. The 17 undocumented aliens, determined to be from Mexico and Guatemala, and the driver of the pickup truck were transported to area hospitals for treatment of the injuries they sustained during the accident. Law enforcement officers also identified a vehicle occupied by two others which appeared to be traveling with the pickup truck. Such a vehicle is often characterized as a scout vehicle normally used to divert law enforcement during illegal smuggling operations. The following day, the two Houston area residents who occupied that vehicle were arrested and charged for their alleged involvement in the smuggling effort. The driver of the pickup truck and the passengers in the alleged scout car are charged in separate but related cases. The driver of the pickup truck has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transport illegal aliens and is pending sentencing.  The two who allegedly drove the scout car are pending trial.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Lance Watt will prosecute the case in the Corpus Christi division.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.


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