Three Laredoans Head to Federal Prison for Smuggling Aliens
|Sept. 26, 2012|
LAREDO, Texas – Manuel Chavez-Casarez, 40, Hector Fernandez-Garay, 24, and Imelda Rodriguez, 23, all of Laredo, have been sentenced to prison for their roles in an alien transporting conspiracy, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. A federal jury convicted Rodriguez of conspiracy to transport aliens for private gain and two counts of transporting aliens after two days of trial on May 24, 2012, while Chavez-Casarez and Fernandez-Garay previously pleaded guilty.
Today, U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo handed Fernandez-Garay a 37-month sentence, while Rodriguez was ordered to serve 18 months in prison. Chavez-Casarez will serve 12 months and a day. Fernandez-Garay will be on supervised release for three years while Chavez-Casarez and Rodriguez will serve a two-year-term.
According to evidence and testimony at the trial of Rodriguez, on March 20, 2012, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents responded to a request for investigative assistance from Border Patrol agents and officers with the Laredo Police Department (LPD) regarding an alien smuggling event. LPD officers initiated two traffic stops on highway 83 near the Riverhill subdivision in Laredo, resulting in several apprehensions.
The first vehicle, a Chevrolet Silverado, driven by Chavez-Casarez, did not initially yield and was eventually stopped for a traffic violation by LPD. The LPD officer observed several individuals lying down in the bed of pickup truck and requested assistance from Border Patrol. Agents conducted brief interviews and determined 14 passengers in the truck were undocumented aliens with no legal right to enter or remain in the United States.
The Dodge Durango, driven by Fernandez-Garay, also did not yield and led officers on a pursuit which resulted in the collision of two LPD vehicles and an injury to one of the officers. Border Patrol agents responded to the scene and determined Fernandez-Garay and passenger Rodriguez were both U.S. citizens. However, seven other passengers in the vehicle were found to be undocumented aliens with no legal right to enter or remain in the United States.
Fernandez-Garay will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future. Chavez-Casarez and Rodriguez were permitted to remain on bond and voluntarily surrender in the near future.
The case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, Border Patrol and LPD. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) Raul Guerra and Special AUSA David White.