Previously Deported Mexican National Pleads Guilty to Immigration and Drug Trafficking Charges
ALBUQUERQUE – A previously deported felon from Mexico pled guilty today in federal court in Las Cruces, N.M., to conspiracy to transport illegal aliens and unlawful re-entry into the United States.
Ricardo Rogelio Paez, 26, of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, was charged on June 3, 2014, in a criminal complaint with attempting to bring illegal aliens into the United States. At the time, Paez himself was an illegal alien who previously had been deported from the United States after being convicted of aggravated felonies. Immigration records reflect that Paez had been deported to Mexico on July 3, 2013, based on two felony convictions for assault with a deadly weapon in Oct. 2007, and for being a felon in possession of a firearm in May 2012.
Paez subsequently was indicted on Dec. 3, 2014, and charged with conspiracy to transport illegal aliens from May 13 through May 16, 2014, two counts of attempting to move and transport illegal aliens within the United States, possession of more than 100 kilograms of marijuana with intent to distribute and unlawful re-entry into the United States. All offenses occurred in Doña Ana County, N.M., in May 2014.
During today’s plea hearing, Paez pled guilty to conspiracy to transport illegal aliens, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, and unlawful re-entry of a removed alien. In entering his guilty plea, Paez admitted that on May 16, 2014, he conspired with others to drive a vehicle on New Mexico State Road 9 while transporting 14 illegal aliens. He also admitted possessing approximately 264 kilograms of marijuana in the vehicle he was driving on May 16, 2014, which he intended to distribute to others. Finally, Paez admitted that he unlawfully re-entered the United States after previously being deported and without obtaining the consent of the United States.
At sentencing, Paez faces a statutory minimum penalty of five years and a maximum penalty of 40 years in federal prison. Paez will be deported to Mexico after completing his prison sentence.
This case was investigated by the Santa Teresa, N.M., Station U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the Las Cruces office of Homeland Security Investigations. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Luis A. Martinez and Selesia Winston of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office.