Operators of "Welcome to Hell" Stash House Indicted
|May 15, 2012|
McALLEN, Texas - Vicente Ortiz-Soto and Marcial Salas-Gardunio, both 23 and Mexican nationals, have been indicted on charges of conspiracy to harbor aliens and alien harboring, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today.
The indictment, returned today, alleges local law enforcement officers working alongside federal authorities were sent to a residence in Edinburg, Texas, on May 2, 2012, after a 911 caller indicated he was being held against his will in an alien stash house. Upon arrival at the scene, according to the indictment, authorities discovered more than 100 undocumented aliens of various countries of origin located in three separate buildings on the property. One building was chain-locked and several undocumented aliens who were locked inside the building were later treated for injuries. Statements taken from the undocumented aliens indicated they were allegedly threatened by Salas-Gardunio that they would be beaten or killed if they did not remain quiet. Additionally, witnesses indicated Salas-Gardunio stated "Welcome to Hell" when undocumented aliens arrived at the residence.
Ortiz-Soto and Salas-Gardunio were arrested on May 2, 2012, following the filing of a criminal complaint and will remain in federal custody without bond per court order pending trial. A date for their arraignment on the formal charges alleged in the indictment will be set by the court in the near future.
If convicted, Ortiz-Soto and Salas-Gardunio face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 on each count.
This case is being investigated by ICE-Homeland Security Investigations. Assistant U.S. Attorney Cory J. H. Crenshaw is prosecuting the case.
An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.