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Press Release

Brownsville Man Handed Significant Sentence for Hostage taking

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

BROWNSVILLE, Texas – A 24-year-old Brownsville man has been ordered to prison for nearly 20 years following his conviction of human smuggling and hostage taking, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Reynaldo Lerma-Pichardo pleaded guilty Oct. 25, 2016.


On Feb. 15, 2017, U.S. District Judge Rolando Olvera ordered he serve a total of 235 months in federal prison to be immediately followed by three years of supervised release.


On or about Nov. 22, 2015, the Brownsville Police Department (BPD) received a 911 call leading them to an apartment. There, Border Patrol (BP) agents discovered nine undocumented aliens being held against their will. The undocumented aliens reported that they were not allowed to leave the apartment unless they could pay additional monies to Lerma-Pichardo.


Lerma-Pichardo operated the alien smuggling operation along with Leticia Lerma-Pichardo, Juan Carlos Meza-Hinojosa and Cynthia Yadira Deantes out of their homes.


During the course of the investigation, Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents discovered that Lerma-Pichardohas sexually assaulted one of the illegal alien females held at the apartment.


Leticia Lerma Pichardo, 47, a legal permanent resident of Brownsville and Meza-Hinojosa, a 38-year-old Mexican citizen were previously sentenced to 37 and 22 months, respectively. Deantes, 23, is set for sentencing next week.


HSI conducted the investigation with the assistance of BP and BPD. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ana Cano is prosecuting the case.

Updated February 16, 2017

Human Smuggling