News and Press Releases

Four Illegals Sentenced for Harboring Aliens

April 25, 2012

McALLEN, Texas – Jose Santos Gomez-Vega, 33, of Altamirano, Guerrero, Mexico, has been sentenced to 92 months in prison for his role in harboring aliens at stash houses located near Alton and La Blanca, Texas, as well as for re-entering the United States after prior removal, U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today.

Late yesterday, Chief U.S. District Judge Ricardo Hinojosa handed down the sentence against Gomez-Vega  as well as three others connected to harboring illegal aliens in August 2010. In each case, the court took into consideration the number of aliens trafficked through the houses, the respective roles of each of the co-defendants and the fact that these individuals, after illegally entering the United States, did not to look for legitimate work but instead continue to violate the laws of this country.

In August 2010, agents with Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement – Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI) initiated surveillance on a residence near Alton believed to be a stash house for aliens. On Aug. 19, 2010, they approached the residence and discovered six illegal aliens being harbored by Isidro Cruz, 25, of Huetamo, Michoacán, Mexico, who was subsequently arrested. The agents also discovered ledgers at the residence establishing that more than 100 aliens had been harbored at said residence over the past several months.

Through the course of the investigation, agents subsequently identified a second, related house near La Blanca where 32 illegal aliens were eventually discovered on Aug. 25, 2010. Rafael Nunez-Valencia, 22, of Tuxpan, Jalisco, Mexico, and Jose Ruben Ramirez-Hernandez, 28, of Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato, Mexico, were found at the residence and identified as the caretakers of the aliens and arrested. Agents found two additional ledgers indicating that more than 100 aliens, in addition to the 32 originally discovered, had been kept at the house.

Gomez-Vega was arrested in October 2010 after agents determined he had actually rented the residence near La Blanca and that he hired the caretakers to maintain the residence for him. He pleaded guilty to harboring illegal aliens and for re-entering the country after prior deportation. At the sentencing hearing, it was noted that Gomez-Vega had a prior conviction and was previously sentenced to 30 months for conspiracy to transport an unlawful alien in 2008. On supervised release during commission of this crime, the court found he violated the terms of  supervised release and ordered he serve an additional five months to run concurrent with his 92-month sentence imposed in this case. 

Cruz was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison, while Nunez-Valencia received time served. Ramirez-Hernandez received a sentence of 41 months in addition to a concurrent five-month-term for a revocation of supervised release related to a prior conviction from 2006 for false, fictitious and fraudulent statements.

This investigation was conducted by Border Patrol and ICE-HSI. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Juan F. Alanis.







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