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Press Release

Florida Man Sentenced for Conspiracy to Transport Illegal Aliens

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


Gulfport, Miss. – Robert Espinal, Jr., 52, of Cape Coral, Florida, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Louis Guirola, Jr. today to 14 months in federal prison, followed by 2 years of supervised release, for conspiracy to transport illegal aliens within the United States, announced U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst and Raymond R. Parmer, Jr., Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations in New Orleans. Espinal was also ordered to pay a $4,000 fine and special assessments totaling $5,100. He entered a guilty plea to the charge on July 26, 2017, before Chief U.S. District Judge Louis Guirola, Jr., in Gulfport.

On February 16, 2017, a Kia Sorento vehicle owned and driven by Espinal, was stopped by a City of D’Iberville Police Officer on Interstate-10 in Harrison County, Mississippi, for careless driving. While the Kia Sorento was designed to seat seven people, the police officer observed that, in addition to the driver, there were eight unidentified passengers for a total of nine occupants in the vehicle. The eight passengers could not be identified by Espinal. The Blue Lightning Operations Center of the Department of Homeland Security was notified, and agents of Homeland Security Investigations and the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol responded.

The passengers did not have proper documents, were illegally present in the United States, and were being smuggled by Mr. Espinal. All occupants of the vehicle were arrested. Espinal confirmed that he knew his passengers were illegal aliens and that he had allowed some of them to stay overnight at an apartment he had in Texas. Some of the passengers later testified that their family agreed to pay Espinal to drive them to various states throughout the country.

U.S. Attorney Hurst praised the cooperation exhibited by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, and the D’Iberville Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Stan Harris was the prosecutor for the case.

Updated November 29, 2017