Department of Justice Logo and United States Attorney's Office Header

March 1, 2012

(713) 567-9388

31 Charged in Multi-Year Alien Smuggling Conspiracy

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – A federal grand jury in Corpus Christi has returned indictments against several Texas residents for their involvement in a conspiracy to harbor and transport illegal aliens, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today along with Robert Rutt, special agent in charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement – Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI).

A sealed indictment was returned Jan. 25, 2012, and partially unsealed upon the arrests of Petronilo Sanchez-Jimenez, 42, Norma Leticia Silva-Garcia aka Norma Sanchez aka Norma Rocha, 38, and Sandro Alvarez-Maldonado, 35, all of Edinburg, Texas; Armando Olmedo-Trevino, 47, Maria Herrera, 34, John Castillo, 31, Ricky Garibaldi, 46, Oscar Garza-Perales, 28, all of Wharton, Texas; Donna Simkins, 45, Tracy Howard, 47, Christian Russo, 39, all of Houston; and Cristobal Ochoa, 48, of Falfurrias, Texas.

On Feb. 22, 2012, the indictment was superceded and unsealed upon the arrest of an additional 19 defendants. Those included Rosalinda Carbajal, 49, of Wharton; Alberto Ramon Castellano, 37, Veronica Rodriguez-Salinas, 27, Andrew Joseph Rodriguez, 21, all of Falfurrias, Texas; Jeenifer Ledesma, 21, Veronica Gallegos, 32, Alejandro Martinez, 30, Darrell Chatmon, 21, Marixsa Sermeno, 29, Mayra Patino, 24, Priscilla Arispe, 22, Miriam Suarez, 20, all of Houston, Texas; Krystal Montana, 24, of Conroe, Texas; Mary Jane Hane, 59, Tina Beridon, 41, both of Huffman, Texas; Heather Redmond, 20, of Sugarland, Texas; Angie Enriquez aka Angie Luevano, 29, of Texas City, Texas; Chastinique Kemp, 21, of Missouri City, Texas; and Ashli Urbina, 23, of Galveston, Texas.

The indictment remains sealed as to those charged but not yet in custody. 

The indictment alleges the defendants engaged in a conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens in buildings and other places and to transport illegal aliens by means of a motor vehicle from Aug. 9, 2002, to Jan. 31, 2012. Five of the defendants, Herrera, Silva-Garcia, Sanchez-Jimenez, Simkins, and Garibaldi, have already entered pleas of guilty to the conspiracy and will be sentenced on May 3, 2012. A notice of forfeiture has been entered for approximately $83,000 and two residences, which have been seized as part of the overall investigation.

The case is being tried in Corpus Christi before Senior United States District Judge Janis Graham Jack. The conspiracy charge carries up to 10 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine upon conviction. Garza-Perales, a citizen of Mexico, was separately indicted for illegally re-entering the United States after having been previously deported. If convicted of that offense, he faces an additional prison term of up to 20 years and a maximum $250,000 fine.

The indictment and arrests are the result of an on-going investigation by ICE-HSI in cooperation with the United States Attorney’s Office. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Chad W. Cowan and Jeffrey D. Preston. 

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