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May 17, 2011

MEMBER OF ALIEN SMUGGLING OPERATION WHICH RESULTED IN INJURY TO 17 ALIENS SENTENCED

(CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas) – The last member a large alien smuggling organization whose operation resulted in injury to 17 aliens following a single vehicle accident has been sentenced to federal prison, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today.

Miguel Alvarado-Casas, 36, a Mexican National residing in Houston and convicted by a federal jury on March 3, 2011, for conspiracy to  transport undocumented aliens, was sentenced by United States District Judge John Rainey to 100 months imprisonment to be followed by three years of supervised release. Judge Rainey pronounced sentence at  a hearing this afternoon. 

The charges against Miguel Alvarado-Casas and several other members of this smuggling organization stem from a Nov. 24, 2009, single vehicle accident in Jim Wells County that injured 17 undocumented aliens and the driver, Patricio Rebollar Jr., 29, of Houston, when the truck Rebollar was driving left the roadway and drove through a fence before going over a 40-foot embankment. Rebollar was identified as the driver of the vehicle and the passengers were determined to be undocumented aliens from Mexico and Guatemala. A total of 18 individuals were transported to area hospitals due to injuries they sustained during the accident. Law enforcement officers were also able to identify a scout vehicle, normally used to divert law enforcement during illegal smuggling operations, traveling with the pickup truck. 

The continued investigation by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and United States Border Patrol lead to identifying other members of the smuggling organization including Herman Valdez, 29, and Nuvia Nancy Martinez, 25, both of Houston, the driver and occupant of the “scout” car traveling with the truck involved in the accident, who were arrested the following day. Jorge Luis Gomez-Rosales, 24, a brush guide injured in the accident, and Juan Manuel Valdez-Fuentes, 26, both Mexican Nationals, were later charged for their involvement in the incident.

On May 5, 2010, HSI agents and the Houston Police Department officers executed numerous search warrants and arrested several identified members of the alien smuggling organization including Miguel Alvarado-Casas - brother of the leader of the smuggling organization, Servando “El Chino” Alvarado-Casas. Several notebooks and ledgers related to alien trafficking were discovered in Miguel Alvarado-Casas’ residence and he is believed to have assisted his brother in the organization’s financial record keeping.

During the search of several Houston area residences, agents located $75,000 in U.S. currency, multiple documents and several firearms, including a stolen assault rifle, all of which have been administratively forfeited to the United States.

Also arrested as a result of that enforcement action were Victor Manuel Campuzano, 23, and Jaime Roman Bustamante, 27, both of Houston, who served the organization as scout drivers, and “El Chino,” 29, a Mexican National illegally residing in Houston. “El Chino is identified as the leader of the alien smuggling organization and believed to be responsible for smuggling thousands of illegal aliens into the United States.

“El Chino” pleaded guilty in July 2010 to conspiracy to transport illegal aliens and was sentenced Oct. 19, 2010, to 190 months imprisonment and 120 months imprisonment for being a felon in possession of firearms. Both sentences will run concurrently.

Gomez-Rosales pleaded guilty in May 2010 to conspiracy to transport illegal aliens and was sentenced Jan. 20, 2011, to 114 months imprisonment. Campuzano was convicted by a federal jury on Dec. 3, 2010, of conspiracy to transport illegal aliens and was sentenced Feb. 24, 2011, by United States District Judge John Rainey to 100 months imprisonment to be followed by three years of supervised release.

Valdez pleaded guilty in July 2010 to conspiracy to transport illegal aliens and was sentenced Feb. 24, 2011, to 100 months imprisonment to be followed by three years of supervised release while Martinez pleaded guilty in August 2010 to conspiracy to transport illegal aliens and was sentenced in February 2011 to 87 months imprisonment to be followed by three years of supervised release.

Rebollar pleaded guilty in January 2010 to conspiracy to transport illegal aliens and is serving a 48-month-term of imprisonment. Valdez-Fuentes pleaded guilty in August 2010 to conspiracy to transport illegal aliens and will be sentenced in June by United States District Judge John Rainey.

In federal custody without bond since his arrest, Miguel Alvarado-Casas will remain in federal custody pending transfer to a Bureau of Prisons facility to be designated in the near future where he will serve his sentence.

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

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