Honduran Man Sentenced for Illegal Alien Smuggling
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Mississippi
Gulfport, Miss. – Marcelo Jecher Ortonez, 28, an illegal alien from Honduras, was sentenced yesterday by U.S. District Judge Louis Guirola, Jr. to 14 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for illegal transportation of an alien, announced U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst, Jere T. Miles, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations in New Orleans, and Gregory K. Bovino, Chief Patrol Agent of the U.S. Border Patrol’s New Orleans Sector.
On April 4, 2019, a Biloxi Police officer conducted a traffic stop on I-10 east bound. The driver was Marcelo Jecher Ortonez, an illegal alien from Honduras. The officer observed seven unidentified Hispanic passengers, five males and two females. Because the officer did not speak Spanish, he contacted the Department of Homeland Security’s Blue Lightning Operations Center, and two Homeland Security Investigations Special Agents responded to the traffic stop. All occupants of the vehicle were determined to be illegally present in the U.S. and were transported to the U.S. Border Patrol office in Gulfport for further processing. After interviewing all occupants, it was determined that the occupants were being smuggled from Houston, Texas, to Maryland.
Further investigation revealed that, in addition to Marcelo Jecher Ortonez, three of his passengers (Lucas Ramirez-Hernandez, 28, a citizen of Guatemala; and Jose Valdez-Santana, 46, and Angel Martinez-Garcia, 23, both citizens of Mexico) also were aliens who had unlawfully returned to the United States after they had been formally removed from the U.S. to their home nations.
Ramirez-Hernandez, Valdez-Santana and Martinez-Garcia all were separately prosecuted. Each of the three men pled guilty and was convicted of the felony offense of unlawful reentry by a removed alien to the United States. All were sentenced to terms of imprisonment to be followed by further administrative detention and proceedings with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Immigration & Customs Enforcement, for removal to their home nations.
U.S. Attorney Hurst praised the teamwork and cooperation exhibited by the Biloxi Police Department, the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration & Customs Enforcement, Customs & Border Protection, the U.S. Border Patrol, and Homeland Security Investigations. Assistant United States Attorney Stan Harris was the prosecutor for the case.
Updated October 7, 2019