Honduran Man Sentenced For Human Smuggling
Gulfport, Miss. – Emerson Isaac Hernandez-Turcios, 26, a citizen of Honduras, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Sul Ozerden to 21 months in federal prison followed by one year of supervised release for conspiracy to transport illegal aliens within the United States, announced U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst, and Thomas M. Annello, Acting Special Agent-In-Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations in New Orleans. Hernandez-Turcios was also ordered to pay a $5,000 fine.
As a result of this felony conviction, Hernandez-Turcios, who had been living in the United States legally as a Legal Permanent Resident, will face Department of Homeland Security removal proceedings upon the completion of his prison sentence. Were he to unlawfully return to the United States during his period of supervised release, he could face additional penalties. Hernandez-Turcios was convicted after pleading guilty on January 5, 2018, before Judge Ozerden in Gulfport.
On November 5, 2017, a Honda CRV, driven by Hernandez-Turcios, was stopped by a Pearl River County Sheriff’s Deputy on Interstate-59 in Pearl River County, Mississippi, for speeding. While the Honda CRV was designed to seat five people, the deputy observed that, in addition to the driver, there were five unidentified passengers. The driver could not identify his passengers and the deputy could not communicate with the passengers due to a language barrier. Suspecting human smuggling, the deputy contacted the Department of Homeland Security and a special agent with Homeland Security Investigations was dispatched. A Mississippi Highway Patrol State Trooper also provided assistance.
Upon opening the Honda CRV’s cargo door, three additional passengers were found covered in the cargo area of the vehicle bringing the total number of occupants in the vehicle to nine including the driver. The vehicle occupants were taken to the Pearl River County Jail and, ultimately, all of the passengers were determined to be illegal aliens being smuggled within the United States.
The case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department, and the Mississippi Highway Patrol. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Stan Harris.