ATHENS – A Honduran national who admitted to transporting people entering the United States illegally from South America to other areas of the country pleaded guilty to his crimes in federal court Monday, said Charles “Charlie” Peeler, the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. Carlos Aguilera-Espinal, 28, of Honduras, pleaded guilty to one count of Transporting an Illegal Alien and one count of Illegal Reentry in front of U.S. District Court Judge C. Ashley Royal on June 10, 2019. On the charge of Transporting an Illegal Alien, Mr. Aguilera-Espinal faces a maximum sentence of ten years imprisonment, a maximum fine of $250,000, or both, and a term of supervised release of three years. On the charge of Illegal Reentry, he faces a maximum sentence of two years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, or both, and a term of supervised release of one year. entencing is scheduled for September 11, 2019 in Athens, Georgia.
Mr. Aguilera-Espinal was pulled over on April 3, 2019 by the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office (FCSO) on I-85 due to a lane change violation and improper window tint. Deputies discovered a total of thirteen people, a number including Mr. Aguilera-Espinal, inside the SUV being driven by the defendant. Special agents with the Atlanta office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) determined that all thirteen people were illegally present in the United States. One of the occupants was a sixteen year old male juvenile, who was unaccompanied by a guardian or relative. Mr. Aguilera-Espinal and four passengers had been previously removed from the United States by court order and did not have permission to return. Mr. Aguilera-Espinal admitted in his plea agreement that he transported illegal aliens in the United States to further their unlawful presence and for his own private financial gain.
“Smuggling human beings for cash is a dangerous business. Cramming thirteen people, including a minor, in an automobile built for half that many occupants and driving that vehicle on I-85 only compounds the dangers. Our office will continue to enforce laws that prohibit transporting illegal aliens in the United States,” said Charlie Peeler, the U.S. Attorney. “I want to thank the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office and HSI for their excellent work in this matter.”
This case was investigated by the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office and HSI, Atlanta. Assistant U.S. Attorney Amy Helmick prosecuted this case for the Government.
Questions concerning this case can be directed to Pamela Lightsey, Public Information Officer, United States Attorney’s Office, at (478) 621-2603 or Melissa Hodges, Public Affairs Director (Contractor), United States Attorney’s Office, at (478) 765-2362.