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June 7, 2012

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Jury Finds San Juan Man Guilty of Alien Harboring

McALLEN, Texas – A federal jury sitting in McAllen, Texas, has returned verdicts of guilty against Pedro Salazar, 56, of San Juan, Texas, for conspiracy and harboring illegal aliens, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. The jury returned its verdicts after two days of trial and less than three hours of deliberation.

During trial, the prosecution presented evidence that on Feb. 24, 2012, there was a two vehicle accident involving multiple illegal aliens. Following the accident, three of these aliens, from Guatemala and El Salvador, hid in a brush for a few hours and eventually started walking down the road. 

These three people, two adults and a minor female, all testified that Salazar passed them on the road and asked if they needed help to which they said yes. According to testimony, Salazar offered to get them something to eat, but soon drove them to his store/restaurant and put them to work instead. For six hours, the aliens continued to paint, put up display cases and shelves, dusted, swept and mopped. They testified that after they ate, they performed more chores at the request of the defendant and then were taken to a party he was hosting at his restaurant where they had to wait until Salazar eventually took them back to his residence.  

The next morning, Salazar woke the male aliens and had them paint the gate at his ranch. During this time, Salazar attempted to have sex with a 16-year-old female alien. He chased her around the room naked and told her she needed to have sex with him or there would be problems for her. She interpreted that to mean he would contact immigration. She testified she told Salazar she would call law enforcement herself if he carried through with the act since she was a minor, at which time he stopped pursuing her she stated. The next day, Salazar’s wife kicked the aliens out.

The defense attempted to convince the jury he was not actually harboring the aliens, but rather, was trying to provide humanitarian aid.

The jury disagreed and found him guilty on the conspiracy charge as well as two counts of harboring illegal aliens.

Salazar faces up to 10 years on the conspiracy charge and up to five years on each of the substantive harboring charges. Previously released on bond, Salazar was taken into custody following the return of the verdicts where he will remain pending sentencing, set for Aug. 16, 2012, before U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez.

The case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kimberly Ann Leo.