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Oct. 21, 2010

LEADER OF ALIEN SMUGGLING EFFORT THAT LEFT 18 INJURED SENTENCED TO PRISON

(CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas) - The leader of an alien smuggling organization convicted of conspiring to transport illegal aliens arising from a 2009 single vehicle accident in Jim Wells County which resulted in injuries to 18 has been sentenced to prison, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today.

On Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2010, United States District Judge John Rainey sentenced Servando “El Chino” Alvarado-Casas, a Mexican national illegally residing in Houston and leader of the organization, to a total of 190 months imprisonment. Alvarado-Casas was also sentenced to 120 months imprisonment for his conviction of being a felon in possession of firearms and the court has ordered that the two sentences are to be served concurrently. Alvarado-Casas is subject to deportation upon completion of his prison sentence. Alvarado-Casas, 29, pleaded guilty in July 2010 to conspiracy to transport illegal aliens.

The charges stem from a Nov. 24, 2009, single vehicle accident in Jim Wells County which resulted in 17 undocumented aliens and the driver, Patricio Rebollar Jr., 29, of Houston, being injured. The continued investigation by Immigration and Customs Enforcement - Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI) and Border Patrol (BP) lead to the identification of other members of the smuggling organization including Herman Valdez, 29, and Nuvia Nancy Martinez, 25, both of Houston, who were arrested the following day. Jorge Luis Gomez-Rosales, 24, Juan Manuel Valdez-Fuentes, 26, Jaime Roman Bustamonte, 27, Victor Manuel Campuzano, 23, Miguel Alvarado-Casas, 36, and the leader of the organization - “El Chino” Alvarado-Casas - were also identified and subsequently arrested and charged.

On Nov. 24, 2009, a pickup truck traveling on FM 2295 left the roadway and drove through a fence before going over a 40-foot embankment. Rebollar was identified as the driver of the vehicle transporting the 17 passengers who were determined to be undocumented aliens from Mexico and Guatemala. All 18 were transported to area hospitals due to injuries they sustained as a result of the accident. The continued investigation lead to the identification of a scout vehicle, normally used to divert law enforcement during illegal smuggling operations, traveling with the pickup and the identification of  Valdez and Martinez as the occupants of the scout vehicle. Gomez-Rosales, who was injured in the accident, was later identified as the brush guide. All of the injured undocumented aliens have been released from the hospital.

On May 5, 2010, ICE-HSI and the Houston Police Department made additional arrests and executed several search warrants in Houston, including one at Servando Alvarado-Casas’ residence. Federal agents seized and administratively forfeited  $75,000 in U.S. currency and multiple firearms, including a stolen assault rifle found at his residence. “El Chino” was identified as the leader of the alien smuggling organization believed to be responsible for smuggling thousands of illegal aliens into the United States.

Of the nine arrested, Valdez, Martinez, Rebollar, Gomez-Rosales and Valdez-Fuentes have all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transport illegal aliens and will be sentenced later this year. A trial date has been set next month for the three remaining defendants charged in the conspiracy. 

Alvarado-Casas has been in custody without bond and will remain in custody to serve his sentence.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lance Watt.

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