“Eye in the sky” results in conviction for human smuggler
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Texas
McALLEN, Texas – A federal jury has convicted a 36-year-old Mexican citizen illegally residing in Port Isabel for conspiracy and transporting aliens within the country, announced U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.
The jury deliberated for approximately 90 minutes before convicting Maynor Bernardo Guerrero-Ramirez following a three-day trial which included six witnesses.
On July 21, 2021, law enforcement pursued a white Ford Explorer from Mission to Pharr with a group of illegal aliens that had recently crossed the Rio Grande River. Guerrero-Ramirez was the driver.
At trial, the jury heard from what was described as an “eye in the sky.” A Customs and Border Protection (CBP) aviation enforcement agent had maintained video surveillance of the vehicle as it weaved across the highway, onto frontage roads and through the neighborhoods of Pharr. Guerrero-Ramirez was driving erratically and recklessly at a high rate of speed for nearly 15 minutes before the vehicle came to a dead-end road. At that time, the occupants fled into the nearby brush.
Testimony also revealed how authorities were able to locate and apprehend Guerrero-Ramirez with the assistance of the CBP air and marine helicopter from the thick brush. The jury also saw footage of Guerrero-Ramirez as he threw his cellphone into a nearby irrigation canal when he emerged from the brush.
Two of the undocumented aliens also testified. They described how their group crossed the Rio Grande River with the assistance of a foot guide who led them on a long walk through thick brush and mud to a roadway. There, they awaited a vehicle to transport them further into the United States.
Guerrero-Ramirez told them to duck down and hide so they could not be seen and to run when they reached the dead-end road.
The defense attempted to convince the jury Guerrero-Ramirez was under duress and only drove the vehicle out of necessity. He claimed he was not part of the smuggling conspiracy. The jury was not convinced and found him guilty as charged.
U.S. District Judge Ricardo H. Hinojosa presided over the trial and set sentencing for July 6. At that time, Guerrero-Ramirez faces up to 10 years in prison as well as a possible $10 million fine..
Guerrero-Ramirez has been and will remain in custody pending that hearing.
Border Patrol and CBP Air & Marine Operations conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lee Fry and Eric D. Flores prosecuted the case.
Updated April 29, 2022