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Press Release

Two El Salvadoran Men Plead Guilty to Unlawful Transportation of Illegal Aliens

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

Gulfport, Miss. – Two El Salvadoran nationals pleaded guilty to the federal felony offense of unlawful transportation of an alien within the United States, announced U.S. Attorney Darren J. LaMarca, Special Agent in Charge David Denton of Homeland Security Investigations in New Orleans, and Chief Patrol Agent Jason E. Schneider of the U.S. Border Patrol’s New Orleans Sector. 

According to court documents, Jairo Levi Rivera-Ayala, 27, and Herberth Anton Rodriguez-Ayala, 34, both  of El Salvador, were arrested on September 14, 2021, on Interstate 10 in Harrison County.  A Harrison County Sheriff’s Deputy conducted a vehicle stop and identified the driver as Jairo Levi Rivera-Ayala.   Herberth Anton Rodriguez-Ayala was the front seat passenger, and later identified as a co-driver.

The vehicle contained ten additional passengers for a total of twelve people in a vehicle designed, and with seatbelts, for only seven people.  The U.S. Border Patrol responded to the scene and determined that all twelve occupants of the SUV were illegally present in the United States.  Officials determined that this  was an illegal alien smuggling event, and all twelve vehicle occupants were arrested and transported to the Border Patrol Station in Gulfport for processing.  Special Agents from Homeland Security Investigations also responded to and investigated the case.

Both Rivera-Ayala and Rodriguez-Ayala pleaded guilty to unlawful transportation of an alien within the United States.  Rivera-Ayala pleaded guilty on February 22, 2022 and is scheduled to be sentenced on May 24, 2022.  Rodriguez-Ayala pleaded guilty on December 16, 2021 and is scheduled to be sentenced on March 25, 2022.  Each man faces a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and 3 years of Supervised Release as well as a $100 special assessment and a $5,000 additional special assessment.  After completing any sentence of incarceration, each man also is subject to Department of Homeland Security proceedings to remove him from the United States.  A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The case was investigated by the Border Patrol, Homeland Security Investigations, and the Harrison County Sheriff’s Department. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Stan Harris is the prosecutor for the case.

Updated February 22, 2022

Human Smuggling