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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Florida

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, February 23, 2018

Undocumented Guatemalan Sentenced For Paying Smugglers To Bring Unaccompanied Minor From Guatemala To The United States

Jacksonville, Florida – U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Corrigan today sentenced Miguel Pacheco-Lopez (35), an undocumented alien from Guatemala, to more than seven months in federal prison for sending money to Guatemala to help pay smugglers to bring an unaccompanied minor to the United States. He pleaded guilty on November 21, 2017.

According to court documents, on June 29, 2017, a U.S. Border Patrol agent encountered an unaccompanied 16-year-old Guatemalan boy in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. During an interview, the boy said that he had entered the country illegally and that he intended to live in Jacksonville with a brother-in-law named Miguel Pacheco-Lopez.

As part of an initiative to investigate those who smuggle unaccompanied children into the United States, agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations located Pacheco-Lopez in Jacksonville on July 6, 2017. Pacheco-Lopez admitted that he was illegally present in the United States and was then administratively arrested for violating U.S. immigration laws.

During later interviews, Pacheco-Lopez stated that he had wired 20,000 Quetzals (Guatemala currency) to help pay smugglers to bring the boy to the United States. He said that his father-in-law (the boy’s father) had borrowed an additional 25,000 Quetzals to pay the smugglers. The total smuggling fee of 45,000 Quetzals is equivalent to approximately $6,100.

“This criminal jeopardized his own family members by paying human smugglers,” said HSI Tampa Special Agent in Charge James C. Spero. “He endangered a child’s life with a dangerous and unlawful journey into the United States, and now he will be held accountable.”

This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Arnold B. Corsmeier.

Topic(s): 
Immigration
Human Smuggling
Component(s): 
Updated February 23, 2018