Alien Smuggler Who Used Craigslist To Hire Drivers Heads To Federal Prison
McALLEN, Texas - José Gustavo Diaz-Velasquez, 30, a Mexican national who resided in the Rio Grande Valley, has been ordered to prison for alien smuggling and unlawful possession of a firearm, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. Diaz-Velasquez entered a guilty plea on July 27, 2012.
Today, Chief U.S. District Judge Ricardo H. Hinojosa, who accepted the guilty plea, handed Diaz-Velasquez a sentence of 87 months in federal prison for both counts of conviction to be served concurrently. In handing down the sentence, Judge Hinojosa took into consideration that Diaz-Velasquez hired a number of drivers through Craigslist to transport aliens within the United States, as well as the number of aliens ultimately transported. Diaz-Velasquez is expected to face deportation proceedings following his release from prison.
Diaz-Velasquez had been the subject of an alien smuggling investigation led by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents which involved the use of the Craigslist website to recruit drivers to transport undocumented aliens within the Rio Grande Valley.
The investigation began in August 2011 when HSI agents identified approximately 10 different postings believed to be connected with the organization. Through further investigation, agents were able to identify the physical location used to make the Craigslist postings as an apartment belonging to the wife of Diaz-Velasquez in McAllen. He also had a YouTube account in which a copy had been posted of a dash-cam video of a high speed pursuit which had occurred on April 24, 2011, in La Joya. Although the driver ultimately eluded capture by law enforcement, officers apprehended nine undocumented aliens from the vehicle of Diaz-Velasquez.
During the course of the investigation, agents interviewed multiple individuals who were hired by the organization to transport undocumented aliens, some of whom were able to provide information in support of the investigation.
Diaz-Velasquez was apprehended in Rio Grande City on March 14, 2012, by Border Patrol agents. On that morning, Border Patrol agents observed Diaz in the vicinity of an known alien and narcotics smuggling location in Rio Grande City. Knowing that Diaz-Velasquez was illegally in the United States and had been previously deported to Mexico, he was taken into custody.
Diaz-Velasquez ultimately admitted that he hired another individual to pick up aliens in Rio Grande City and transport them to another location within the United States.
Concerning the firearm charge, Diaz-Velasquez ultimately admitted that on or about July 17, 2011, he was an alien who was illegally and unlawfully in the United States and that he possessed a Spike’s Tactical, Model ST-15, 5.56mm rifle in and affecting commerce, which had been shipped and transported in interstate and foreign commerce.
Diaz-Velasquez will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
The investigation leading to the charges was initiated by HSI with the assistance of Border Patrol. Assistant United States Attorney Linda Requénez prosecuted the case.