Belizean Man Ordered to Prison After Attempting to Illegally Enter the Country
LAREDO, Texas – A 46-year-old Belizean man claiming to be a U.S. citizen has been ordered to federal prison after being found guilty of attempting to illegally re-enter the United States after deportation, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez. A federal jury sitting in Laredo convicted Jerome Aristedes Martinez, of Belize City, Belize, Feb. 15, 2017, following a two-day trial.
Today, U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo, who presided over the trial, handed Martinez a 33-month sentence. At the hearing, the court considered Martinez’s lengthy criminal history as well as the evidence previously presented at trial. Martinez stated to the court that he would not be returning to the United States again.
The court also heard a motion to revoke Martinez’s supervised release for a prior illegal re-entry case. Martinez entered a plea of “no contest” to allegations he had again re-entered the country illegally. However, Judge Marmolejo found the allegations to be true based on the evidence presented at trial. Martinez’s supervised release was revoked and he was sentenced to 21 months imprisonment to be served concurrently with the other sentence imposed.
As an illegal alien, Martinez is expected to face deportation proceedings following his release from prison.
On Aug. 18, 2015, Martinez attempted to enter the United States at the Lincoln Juarez Bridge, claiming to be a U.S. citizen. At that time, he presented an Illinois Identification card and a Department of Homeland Security/Social Security Administration web-site print-out as proof of his citizenship. However, upon questioning, authorities discovered Martinez was actually a native and citizen of Belize who had been removed from the United States twice before. The jury heard that Martinez had never obtained the proper permission to return to the United States after his last removal.
Martinez admitted to having been previously convicted of illegal re-entry after making false claims to U.S. citizenship. However, he testified that after his most recent removal to Belize, he “became aware” that he had been born in the U.S. Virgin Islands and was, therefore, a U.S. Citizens.
The jury heard that there is no record of Martinez having been born in the U.S. Virgin Islands and that the only birth record in existence is from Belize. The government also produced documents showing his prior statements acknowledging his Belizean citizenship.
Martinez will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
Customs and Border Protection conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sarah M. Ellison and Giselle S. Guerra prosecuted the case.