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Press Release

Two Plead Guilty in Illegal Alien Smuggling Operation; Three Illegal Aliens Sentenced for Unlawful Return After Removal

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

Gulfport, Miss. – Jose Ramon Hernandez-Reyes, 33, an illegal alien from Mexico, and Modesto Alvarado, 18, a United States citizen living in Houston, Texas, pled guilty before Senior U.S. District Judge Louis Guirola, Jr. in connection with illegal alien smuggling in Harrison County, announced U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst, Jere T. Miles, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in New Orleans, and Michael J. Harrison, Acting Chief Patrol Agent of the Border Patrol’s New Orleans Sector. 

Hernandez-Reyes pled guilty on June 4, 2020, to illegal transportation or moving of an alien.  He will be sentenced by Judge Guirola on August 26, 2020 at 10:00 a.m.  He faces a maximum penalty of 5 years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine, $5,100 in special assessments, and proceedings to remove him from the United States.  Alvarado pled guilty on June 17, 2020, to misprision of a felony, and will be sentenced on September 15, 2020, at 10:00 a.m.   He faces a maximum penalty of 3 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. 

Additionally, three illegal aliens who had been passengers of Hernandez-Reyes and Alvarado pled guilty and were sentenced for unlawful return after removal.   Elias Delgado-Ortiz, 19, a citizen of Mexico; Jose Ernaides Aldana-Hernandez, 42, a citizen of El Salvador; and Orbin Noel Gomez-Suarez, 24, a citizen of Honduras, all pled guilty and were sentenced earlier this month to time served (effectively 6 months).  They were also sentenced to one year of supervised release, and face Department of Homeland Security proceedings to remove them back to their home nations.

On December 4, 2019, an agent of the South Mississippi Metro Enforcement Team, who also is a City of Gautier Police Officer, conducted a traffic stop on a white Dodge Caravan on Interstate 10 eastbound in Jackson County.  After making the traffic stop, the agent found that the driver, Modesto Alvarado, was a U.S. citizen who spoke fluent English, but did not have a valid driver’s license.  Including the driver, nine people were in the minivan, which was more than the vehicle was designed to carry or had seat belts to secure.  The agent believed a smuggling event was taking place, and notified the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Blue Lightening Operations Center, in Gulfport, and all occupants were transported to the Gautier Police Department for initial processing.     

Homeland Security Investigations special agents and task force agents responded to Gautier to interview the occupants.  None of the nine minivan occupants had proper identification documents and eight were found to be illegally present in the United States.  After interviewing all occupants, it was determined that seven passengers were being smuggled from Houston, Texas, to different locations throughout the United States.  One of the two drivers (who rented the minivan) was Hernandez-Reyes who was determined to be the brother-in-law of Modesto Alvarado.  Three of their passengers, Delgado-Ortiz, Aldana-Hernandez, and Gomez-Suarez were determined to have been lawfully deported or removed from the United States, and to have unlawfully returned to the U.S. after their removal.

U.S. Attorney Hurst praised the cooperation exhibited by the Department of Homeland

Security, United States Border Patrol, Homeland Security Investigations, the South Mississippi Metro Enforcement Team, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, and the City of Gautier Police Department.  Assistant United States Attorney Stan Harris is the prosecutor for the case. 

 

Updated June 19, 2020

Topics
Immigration
Human Smuggling