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Justice News

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

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Two Guatemalan Nationals Sentenced To A Combined 67 Years In Prison For Roles In Hostage Taking

PHOENIX, Ariz. – On Jan. 14, 2013, Domingo Agustin-Simon, 31, and Leonardo Rabanales-Casia, 30, both of Guatemala, were sentenced by U.S. District Judge David G. Campbell for their roles in a Mesa-based hostage taking.  Agustin-Simon was sentenced to 35 years in prison for the hostage taking and conspiracy to commit hostage taking.  He was sentenced to an additional consecutive term of seven years for brandishing a shotgun in connection with the hostage taking.  Rabanales-Casia was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the hostage taking and conspiracy to commit hostage taking. Both men had previously been found guilty of those charges by a federal jury.

U.S. Attorney John S. Leonardo stated that, "These lengthy sentences serve to not only punish and deter such cruel and inhumane activity but also to protect the public from dangerous individuals that prey upon the vulnerabilities of their victims."

“This case illustrates the ruthlessness and brutality of the human smuggling trade,” said Matt Allen, special agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Arizona. “These smugglers treated the people in the drop house as a mere business commodity, with no qualms about jeopardizing human life in order to extort personal profit.   Investigating these cases is a top priority for HSI, and we will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to bring those who would choose to exploit people in this despicable way to justice. ”

Evidence at trial was that defendants were part of an alien smuggling operation responsible for crossing illegal aliens into the United States and harboring them at a drop house in Mesa.  On Aug. 10, 2011, an IIMPACT task force comprised of law enforcement from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations, Arizona Department of Public Safety and Phoenix Police Department raided the drop house and found more than 40 illegal aliens inside.  Testimony at trial revealed that the smugglers threatened the aliens with physical harm and death and told family members that the aliens would be harmed or killed if payments were not made.  One hostage was beaten by the smugglers, the women were subject to sexual molestation and the evidence presented showed that one of the women was raped by Agustin-Simon.  The smugglers used a shotgun to keep order in the drop house.    

The following four co-defendants previously pleaded guilty in connection with their roles at the drop house and were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 24 months to 8 years: Sergio Rivera-Jimenez, 34; Jose Luis Garcia-Ortega, 22; Santos Bautista-Juan, 34; and Walmar Rocael Morales-Tomas, 19.  

The investigation in this case was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations. The prosecution was handled by Christine D. Keller and Sean K. Lokey, Assistant U.S. Attorneys, District of Arizona, Phoenix.

CASE NUMBER:            CR-11-01622-PHX-DGC 
RELEASE NUMBER:     2013-002_ Agustin-Simon_etal

For more information on the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, visit

Updated January 7, 2015