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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Ranch-Owner Found Guilty In Alien Smuggling Conspiracy And Must Forfeit 76-Acre Ranch To The U.S. Government

SAN DIEGO, CA – Today a federal jury convicted Potrero, California, resident Kala D. Rains, 47, of seven counts of conspiracy and alien smuggling after a trial before the Honorable Anthony J. Battaglia. The jury also found that the ranch used by Rains to facilitate the conspiracy should be forfeited to the United States Government.

According to evidence presented in court, Rains acted in concert with other co-conspirators to use her ranch to facilitate the bringing in and harboring of illegal aliens in order to transport them further into the interior of the United States. Evidence showed that she was part of a conspiracy that orchestrated the smuggling of several loads of illegal aliens from Mexico into the United States in and around the Tecate, California- area.

Her arrest resulted from an investigation conducted by Homeland Security Investigations’ (HSI) Border Enforcement Security Task Force, which is comprised of HSI special agents and U.S. Border Patrol agents. Prosecutors presented evidence of video-recorded undercover meetings, audio recordings, and telephonic evidence to build the case of the conspiracy. Jurors also heard from aliens smuggled into the United States by the organization who testified that they were to pay between $6,500 and $7,500 to members of the conspiracy as a smuggling fee.

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office commends the HSI Special Agents and U.S. Border Patrol Agents who worked tirelessly over the two-year investigation to infiltrate, disrupt, and dismantle this transnational criminal organization,” said United States Attorney Laura E. Duffy.

Previously, co-defendants Caroline Haro Espindola, Jose Maria Partida-Esquivel, and Alexander Flores pleaded guilty for their roles in the alien smuggling conspiracy.

Rains faces a mandatory minimum sentence of three years and a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for February 27, 2015.


DEFENDANT    
Kala Rains Age: 47 Potrero, California
 
CHARGES

Count 1:    Conspiracy, 18 U.S.C. § 371

Counts 2 and 3:    Bringing in Illegal Aliens for Financial Gain, 8 U.S.C. §1324(a)(2)(B)(ii) and 18 U.S.C. § 2

Counts 4-5:    Harboring Illegal Aliens, 8 U.S.C. §1324(a)(1)(A)(iii) and (v)(II)

Counts 6-7:    Transporting Illegal Aliens, 8 U.S.C. §1324(a)(1)(A)(ii) and (v)(II)

 
INVESTIGATING AGENCY

Homeland Security Investigations

U.S. Border Patrol

Updated July 23, 2015