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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Arizona

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Arkansas-based Man, Responsible For Over 800 Illegal Aliens Smuggled Into Arizona From Mexico, Sentenced To Federal Prison

PHOENIX – On May 7, 2014, Rony Abimael Gonzalez-Herrera, 37, from Guatemala, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge John A. Jarvey to 57 months in federal custody.  Gonzalez had pled guilty on Jan. 9, 2014, to conspiracy to transport and harbor illegal aliens. 

Beginning in 2012 and continuing through April of 2013, Gonzalez, the leader of the alien smuggling organization based in Little Rock, Ark., and his associates, were responsible for illegally transporting and harboring at least 827 illegal aliens into the United States from Mexico.  Gonzalez utilized multiple stash houses in the Phoenix area, including one discovered in January 2013 with over 40 illegal aliens.  The organization also coordinated the illegal transportation of undocumented persons throughout the United States by significantly overloading vehicles.

On May 13, 2013, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents in Little Rock, Ark., arrested Gonzalez and seized four cell phones which Gonzalez had utilized to contact his alien smugglers and illegal aliens’ families to make payments on behalf of their relatives.

Families of the illegal aliens reported that Gonzalez directed them to deposit the smuggling fees into specific bank accounts.  After one illegal alien was apprehended by law enforcement, his family members contacted Gonzalez to request he return the smuggling fees.  Gonzalez told the family that “your family will pay if you keep asking for the money.”

The investigation in this case was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Phoenix and Little Rock.  The prosecution was handled by Kristen Brook, Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Arizona, Phoenix

CASE NUMBER:           CR13-1141-PHX-NVW
RELEASE NUMBER:   2014-028_Gonzalez-Herrera

For more information on the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, visit http://www.justice.gov/usao/az/

Updated January 7, 2015