Alleged Leader of Maritime Alien Smuggling Ring Arrested
Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew J. Sutton (619) 546-8941
NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY - July 31, 2020
SAN DIEGO – The alleged leader of a prolific maritime alien smuggling ring, Guillermo Barba, was arraigned on an indictment charging him with alien smuggling offenses yesterday in federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew G. Schopler.
Barba is scheduled for a detention hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge William V. Gallo on August 4, 2020 at 2:00 p.m.
According to the indictment and other publicly available court documents, Barba was a leader of an alien smuggling organization based out of Baja California, Mexico and San Diego, California, which used panga boats, pleasure crafts, and multiple load vehicles to facilitate its sophisticated maritime smuggling operation. This organization is believed to responsible for at least 25 alien smuggling events dating back to November 2017.
This case is the result of ongoing efforts by Homeland Security Investigations - Marine Task Force (MTF) to dismantle active transnational criminal organizations involved in alien smuggling along the U.S.-Mexico border in the Southern District of California. During the last year, MTF and its interagency partners have apprehended approximately 300 illegal aliens off the coast of San Diego. The MTF was also aided in this investigation by the HSI Tijuana Attaché Office
“In addition to undermining this nation’s border security, smuggling on the ocean is extremely dangerous for the individuals being smuggled,” said U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer. “Barba’s arrest and the dismantling of this alien smuggling group is the product of outstanding federal and international law enforcement cooperation that resulted in this successful arrest.”
“Maritime smuggling puts lives at risk and is extremely dangerous. Smugglers often use unsafe boats to enter the U.S. illegally,” said San Diego Sector Border Patrol Chief Patrol Agent Aaron Heitke. “A unified effort has brought this alleged criminal enterprise to an end and it is only through continued cooperation that other transnational criminal organizations can be effectively targeted and dismantled.”
“Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) remains steadfast in our commitment to vigorously pursuing members of transnational criminal networks that exploit and endanger the people they smuggle into our country,” said Cardell T. Morant, Special Agent in Charge of HSI San Diego. “We will continue to work collaboratively with our domestic and international partners to identify, investigate, and prosecute the leaders of these dangerous smuggling networks.”
The United States is represented in court by Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew J. Sutton.
The public is reminded that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
DEFENDANT Criminal Case No: 19-cr-4531-JLS
San Diego, CA
SUMMARY OF CHARGES
Conspiracy to Bring in Illegal Aliens for Financial Gain
Conspiracy to Transport Illegal Aliens for Financial Gain
Maximum Penalties: A term of custody including a mandatory minimum of three years in custody and up to 10 years in custody
Homeland Security Investigations - Marine Task Force
United States Border Patrol, Imperial Beach Station
United States Border Patrol, San Clemente Station
Customs and Border Protection, Office of Air and Marine
Customs and Border Protection, Office of Field Operations
U.S. Coast Guard
U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service
San Diego Harbor Police
Homeland Security Investigations – Tijuana
San Diego ReCoM - Regional Coordinating Mechanism.
(ReCoM is comprised of the U.S. Coast Guard, CBP’s Office of Air and Marine, Office of Field Operations, U.S. Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations and state and local law enforcement partners operating in the Southern California. The ReCoM utilizes the fusion of intelligence, planning and operations to target the threat of transnational crime along the coastal border)