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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Texas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, January 22, 2015

10-Year Sentence For Undocumented Alien For Conspiracy To Transport And Harbor Other Aliens

BROWNSVILLE, Texas - Raul Ramirez-Martinez, 36, an undocumented alien from Queretaro, Mexico, has been sentenced on a multi-count indictment charging conspiracy to transport and harbor aliens and illegal re-entry after removal/deportation, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Ramirez-Martinez, a previously deported illegal alien, pleaded guilty in May 2014.

Today, U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen handed him a sentence of 120 months on each of the charges, to be served concurrently. At the hearing, the government presented evidence that Ramirez-Martinez, who had a prior alien smuggling conviction in 2006, was the leader of the smuggling organization. He is expected to face deportation proceedings following his release from prison.

The charges arose following the discovery of 72 illegal aliens at a stash house in Brownsville.

Co-defendant Rodrigo Gonzalez-Alvarez, 22, went to trial in June 2014. At that trial, agents with the Fraud, Intelligence, Smuggling and Terrorism Unit (FIST), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and U.S. Border Patrol, testified that on March 27, 2014, they learned a group of suspected illegal aliens were being harbored at a residence on Coral Court in Brownsville. The investigated and discovered a total of 72 individuals, all undocumented aliens from different countries - Guatemala, Bolivia, Honduras and El Salvador.

At that time, agents also recovered a cell phone which they used to call other conspirators saying they had escaped the stash house as it was raided by immigration agents. As a result, Ramirez-Martinez and other alien smugglers were arrested as they attempted to pick up the “aliens” who had run from the house.

Further investigation ultimately led agents to a trailer in Olmito where they arrested Gonzalez-Alvarez and others. Testimony at trial included the recovery of “ledgers” with names of smuggled aliens, some who had already transported north. Aliens held at the house testified they were initially kept at the trailer in cramped, standing-room only conditions before being taken to the stash house.

Further testimony revealed Ramirez-Martinez was in charge of the alien smuggling organization. The illegal aliens, who paid up to $4,000 each, were turned over to him for harboring and transportation north.

In addition to Ramirez-Martinez, those arrested and already sentenced include Claudia Cerda-Lucio who received a 34-month prison sentence; Gonzalez-Alvarez - 60 months; Rafael Hernandez - five years probation; Miguel Pucheta-Malaga - 24 months; and Rafael de la Cruz-Bautista - 46 months. With the exception of Gonzalez-Alvarez, all pleaded guilty.

Ramirez-Martinez will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future. 

This case was investigated by agents of the FIST unit, HSI and U.S. Border Patrol and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Oscar Ponce.

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Updated April 30, 2015