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Press Release

Smuggler Sentenced to Five Years for Abandoning His Customers in the Otay Mountains

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of California

For Further Information, Contact: Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexandra F. Foster (619) 546-6735


SAN DIEGO – Alien smuggler Efrain Delgado-Rosales was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Cathy A. Bencivengo to five years in prison for smuggling four non-U.S. Citizens into the United States and then leaving three of them behind in the Otay Mountains once across the border into the United States.

Delgado-Rosales collected four Mexican citizens who sought to enter the United States illegally from a stash house in Tijuana. In anticipation of the trip, Delgado-Rosales sold them brown clothing to wear as camouflage so they would be less visible to U.S. Border Patrol agents as they crossed through the mountains into the United States. Once the four men bought the clothes, Delgado-Rosales took them from the stash house and walked them to the U.S.-Mexico border fence.  

Delgado-Rosales left the four men for a period of hours on the Mexico side of the border fence.  During that time, thieves swooped in and robbed the men of all their cash (thousands of dollars) and some of their cell phones. When Delgado-Rosales returned to resume the crossing into the United States, according to one of the robbed men, Delgado-Rosales was “indifferent” to the robbery. His lack of surprise caused his four charges to suspect that Delgado-Rosales was involved in the robbery.   

Once over the border fence and into the U.S., Delgado-Rosales guided the four men into the Otay Mountains. Three of the four men had a hard time maintaining Delgado-Rosales’s pace. Instead of slowing down, Delgado-Rosales left the men behind. He only grudgingly returned to retrieve them after one of the three men called the one man who had kept pace with the Delgado-Rosales and begged him to return with the guide.

After almost a day of hiking through the mountains, Border Patrol was alerted to the men’s whereabouts.  Border Patrol agents responded to the location –about one mile north of the U.S.-Mexico border and three miles east of the closest checkpoint at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry- to find Delgado-Rosales and the four men.  All five men were arrested for being illegally in the United States.  All four men identified Delgado-Rosales as their foot guide and explained that they and their families each promised to pay others $5,000 to get them each into the United States, for a total of $20,000.

The area where these men were arrested is remote and mountainous, far from human habitation and unlikely to have cell phone service. The location of the arrests matters, because Delgado-Rosales was implicated in another smuggling operation in the Otay Mountains, further east in more rugged and desert-like terrain.  In the August 2014 event, one of the smuggled men, Jose de Jesus Hernandez-Adono, died.  His mummified body was found by Border Patrol and Homeland Security Investigations Agents in late September 2014. A witness was located, who had been smuggled in with Hernandez-Adono. The witness identified Delgado-Rosales as the foot guide. According to the witness, Hernandez-Adono died, and the other three barely survived the trek. 

The facts detailed in the August 2014 smuggling event mirror those detailed by the men in this case.  As in this case, the men in August 2014 were housed at a stash house in Tijuana while waiting to be smuggled into the United States. Delgado-Rosales required that the men buy and wear drab, brown clothing during the crossing to hide from Borer Patrol. The group again consisted of four men and again Delgado-Rosales had them cross over the Otay Mountains. The smuggling fee was the same, $5,000, and Delgado-Rosales again appeared to lack any concern for the welfare of his charges.

Delgado-Rosales has been apprehended by Border Patrol 24 times dating back to July 19, 1999.  Only once was he apprehended alone. Every other time, he was apprehended with at least two and up to 46 other undocumented individuals. Once, on September 14, 2003, he was apprehended in a load house in Los Angeles with 61 other undocumented individuals. 

U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said, “This case serves as an example of the extreme dangers associated with crossing illegally into the United States.  Smuggling activities are run by criminal organizations that have little concern over the welfare of their charges. Our office will aggressively prosecute those who smuggle illegal aliens into the United States for financial gain, place those in their company in grave danger and needlessly cause deaths.”

Chief Border Patrol Agent Richard A. Barlow added, “The sentence of Delgado-Rosales sends a stern message to those who use dangerous means to smuggle individuals into this country for profit.  I would like to acknowledge the U.S. Attorney’s Office for their efforts in this case.”

DEFENDANT                                              Criminal Case No. 15CR02830-CAB

Efrain Delgado-Rosales                                  35 years old


Count 1:  Title 18, United States Code, Section 1324 - Bringing in Illegal Alien for Financial Gain – statutory minimum of five years, statutory maximum of 10 years, a maximum fine of $250,000, a 3-year term of supervised release, and $100 special assessment.    


Border Patrol - Chula Vista Intelligence Division

Updated March 25, 2016

Human Smuggling
Press Release Number: CAS16-0325-Delgado