Four Men Sentenced in Massive Smuggling Case
|April 11, 2013|
HOUSTON – Four Mexican nationals have been sentenced to federal prison for their roles in a large human smuggling case that resulted in the discovery of more than 80 illegal aliens in a Houston residence, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. Luis Trejo-Onofre, 30, Jose Santos-Solorzano, 24, Jose Victor Perez-Olivas, 42, and Gumecindo Jaime-Martinez, 37, all pleaded guilty Oct. 31, 2012, to conspiracy to harbor and transport illegal aliens.
Today, U.S. District Judge Keith P. Ellison, who accepted the guilty pleas, handed each man a 37-month-term of federal imprisonment. As illegal aliens, they are expected to face deportation proceedings following release from prison.
The case began on Sept. 18, 2012, when a Nicaraguan national flagged down a Houston police officer to report that her 17-year-old daughter was being held by an alien smuggling organization extorting additional smuggling fees as a condition of her release. The woman, who had traveled from San Antonio to pick up her daughter from the smuggling organization, was directed to wire $1,700 to Jalisco, Mexico, via Western Union. The smugglers instructed her to deposit the money if she wanted to see her daughter again.
After several calls, the woman was told to meet at a local drug store where she could have her daughter for $1500. An undercover agent accompanied the woman to the meeting and observed the girl in the suspects’ vehicle. Soon after, agents and officers blocked the vehicle and activated emergency lights and sirens. Trejo-Onofre and Santos-Solorzano were in the two front seats, but refused to open the doors and rammed one of the vehicles surrounding them. Agents with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) broke one of the windows, rescued the girl and took the suspects into custody.
The minor female advised that she was held along with several other illegal aliens, including children, who were being held by armed smugglers and often mistreated. The residence was soon located on the 3400 block of Boxelder in Houston. Perez-Olivas was observed and followed as he left to purchase food at a local store and return to the residence. Agents and officers then began to secure the residence and identify those inside.
Most of the male subjects were only wearing underwear. One of the agents recognized Perez-Olivas among the group whom several of the aliens pointed out as a smuggler as well as Jaime-Martinez.
Several aliens were struck and some were locked in a closet. The smugglers carried weapons which were found and seized by agents at the residence. The smugglers also ordered some of the aliens to remove their clothing in order to make it more difficult for the aliens to attempt an escape.
A total of 82 aliens were being held in the house from six different countries. Eight of them were juveniles.
Trejo-Onofre, Santos-Solorzano, Perez-Olivas and Jaime-Martinez will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
The case was investigated by HSI, the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Houston Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Douglas Davis prosecuted the case.