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Nov. 16, 2012

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Hidalgo Man Convicted of Bringing Undocumented Aliens into the U.S.

McALLEN, Texas – A federal jury in McAllen has convicted Adan Garcia-Figueroa, 59, of Hidalgo, on two counts of bringing an undocumented alien into the United States and one count of illegally re-entering the United States after a prior deportation, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. The jury returned its verdicts late yesterday following three days of trial. 

During the trial, the government presented photos, maps and witness testimony illustrating Garcia-Figueroa’s unlawful entry despite being an aggravated felon and while bringing several undocumented aliens into the United States by navigating the Rio Grande River in the shadow of the Hidalgo Port of Entry. The evidence indicated the defendant utilized a raft to bring 12-17 aliens from various Latin American countries, including El Salvador, into the United States during three successive trips across the river. Agents assigned to a Border Patrol Baymaster marine vessel apprehended Garcia-Figueroa while he attempted to flee back to Mexico and later apprehended seven additional aliens after tracking their movement from the river.

Garcia-Figueroa testified and claimed he had previously set fishing nets downstream from the Hidalgo Port of Entry. He attempted to convince the jury he was in the process of floating down several miles of the river in an inflatable raft to retrieve his nets when two border patrol boats appeared and plucked him from his raft and falsely accused him of drug trafficking. Garcia-Figueroa claimed he was the only boater on the water although he admitted to using a raft similar to the one used by the alleged alien smuggler. Garcia-Figueroa could not account for the undocumented aliens that had crossed the river at the same time and place Garcia-Figueroa was apprehended.

Despite these claims, the government was able to offer additional evidence showing Garcia-Figueroa made numerous admissions to the other aliens as they were being transported to the Border Patrol station including offering to assist the aliens with their return to the United States following their deportation.

Garcia-Figueroa is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 23, 2013, at which time he faces a maximum of 20 years imprisonment.

This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and the United States Border Patrol. Assistant United States Attorney Grady J. Leupold prosecuted the case.