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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Former Fugitive Convicted of Kidnapping and Alien Smuggling, Both Resulting in Death

VICTORIA, Texas – A former fugitive who was illegally residing in Houston has entered a guilty plea today, admitting he engaged in an alien smuggling conspiracy that resulted in two deaths and kidnapped two women, one of whom was killed. 

U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson of the Southern District of Texas and Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division made the announcement.

Noe Aranda-Soto, aka “Diablo,” 36, of San Carlos, Michoacan, Mexico, pleaded guilty to kidnapping resulting in death, use of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence resulting in death and conspiracy to transport aliens for private financial gain resulting in death. U.S. District Judge John D. Rainey accepted the guilty plea and has set sentencing for Sept. 12, 2016.  Aranda-Soto faces a mandatory term of life in federal prison. 

In his plea agreement, Aranda-Soto admitted that from 2010 until his arrest in 2012, he led an alien-smuggling and hostage-taking organization that transported aliens from areas near the south-Texas checkpoints to local stash houses in Houston and to points north. On Aug. 1, 2010, his brother was driving a vehicle loaded with illegal aliens when it rolled over near Victoria. One victim died as a result of the accident, while another had been left behind in the brush and died of exposure and dehydration. A third victim was in a coma for nearly a year and now suffers from permanent injuries, according to the plea. 

Law enforcement stopped Aranda-Soto a few days later, but he fled. Still a fugitive on the 2010 charges, Aranda-Soto admitted he returned to Houston in 2012 and began to hold aliens hostage in Houston-area stash houses. After law enforcement rescued a group of aliens being held hostage and arrested several of Aranda-Soto’s employees from one of the locations in October 2012, Aranda-Soto planned to escape from Houston with two female employees. 

According to the plea agreement, while on Interstate 10 near Katy, Aranda-Soto became agitated and shot both the driver and the other female passenger multiple times. The injured driver jumped from the moving car and survived. Aranda-Soto then purposefully drove the car erratically, causing the other woman to be ejected from the moving vehicle onto the highway where she was subsequently run over by multiple other vehicles and killed, according to admissions in the plea agreement.

At the hearing today, the court heard that as the driver jumped from the moving car, she had apologized to the other woman. That victim then screamed in return “tell my children I love them.”

Law enforcement arrested Aranda-Soto a week later at yet another stash house, which was full of illegal aliens whom Aranda-Soto and his co-conspirators were holding hostage. 

With Aranda-Soto’s plea, all of those charged in relation to the 2010 and 2012 criminal activity have now been convicted.  

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Border Patrol agents with the South Texas Campaign and South Texas Border Intelligence Center, Houston Police Department, Harris County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Marshals Service investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Patti H. Booth and Casey N. MacDonald are prosecuting the case along with Trial Attorney Jeffrey Zick of the Criminal Division’s Capital Case Section.

Topic(s): 
Human Smuggling
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Violent Crime
Component(s): 
Updated May 31, 2016