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Press Release

Southern Arizona Alien Smugglers Sentenced to Lengthy Prison Terms

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Arizona

    TUCSON, Ariz. – Yesterday, Fidel Mancinas-Franco, 51, of Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, and Jose Villela-Lopez, 53, of Cananea, Sonora, Mexico, were sentenced by Chief U.S. District Judge Raner C. Collins to 96 to 120 months in prison, respectively.  Mancinas-Franco and Villela-Lopez previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to bring in, transport, and harbor unauthorized aliensAnother co-defendant who played a lesser role in the conspiracy, Fernando Diaz-Gonzalez of Cananea, Sonora, Mexico, previously pleaded guilty to the same charge and received a 48-month sentence.

     “The defendants participated in an alien-smuggling ring that displayed callous disregard for the lives of the persons being smuggled,” said U.S. Attorney John S. Leonardo.  “Yesterday's lengthy sentences send a strong and unambiguous message that such conduct will not be tolerated and will be punished severely.”   

      “Yesterday’s sentencing is a result of the successful collaboration efforts driven by HSI, Border Patrol and our state, local and foreign partners, that disrupted and dismantled this human smuggling network,”  said Matthew C. Allen, special agent in charge for HSI Phoenix. “This investigation was highlighted by innovative tactics and cooperation protocols that led to the dismantling of a prolific human smuggling organization in the U.S., Mexico and Guatemala. This case makes it abundantly clear that, through our joint law enforcement investigations, human smugglers looking to operate and profit in our communities will be brought justice.”  

      Mancinas-Franco and Villela-Lopez were part of a conspiracy to smuggle unauthorized aliens into the United States from Mexico and to transport and harbor those aliens within the United States.  Most of the smuggled aliens hailed from Central and South America.  Mancinas-Franco and Villela-Lopez knew that the aliens, once in the United States, would be transported on the floor of overloaded sport-utility vehicles whose rear seats had been removed.  On three separate instances in 2009, large groups of aliens who were being smuggled by Mancinas-Franco’s and Villela-Lopez’s organization were killed or injured as a result of this dangerous transportation method.  First, on June 6, 2009, 11 smuggled aliens were killed during a rollover incident near Sonoita, Ariz.  Second, on July 19, 2009, another group of 11 smuggled aliens were endangered during a rollover crash in southern Arizona. The members of the alien-smuggling ring collected over $110,000 in smuggling fees and Mancinas-Franco and Villela-Lopez were required to forfeit those proceeds at sentencing. 

     The investigation in this case was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations (ICE/ HSI) in Douglas, Ariz., U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Office of Border Patrol (CBP/BP) Tucson Sector, ICE/HSI Attaché Mexico City, ICE/HSI Attaché Hermosillo, and ICE/HSI Attaché Guatemala City.   Special appreciation is owed to the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs, the government of Mexico, and the U.S. Marshals Service for their assistance in the extradition process.  The prosecution was handled by Sandra M. Hansen and Carmen F. Corbin, Assistant U.S. Attorneys, District of Arizona, Tucson.


CASE NUMBER:           CR-11-1755-TUC-RCC / CR 09-1879-TUC-RCC

RELEASE NUMBER:   2016-040_Mancinas-Franco_Diaz-Gonzalez et al


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Updated May 5, 2016

Human Smuggling
Press Release Number: CR-11-1755-TUC-RCC / CR 09-1879-TUC-RCC / 2016-040_Mancinas-Franco_Diaz-Gonzalez et al