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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, March 25, 2022

Fort Hood soldiers sentenced for role in alien smuggling conspiracy

LAREDO, Texas – Two soldiers stationed in Texas have been ordered to federal prison for conspiring to transport undocumented aliens, announced U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery

Isaiah Gore, 21, and Denerio Williams, 22, pleaded guilty Dec. 2, 2021, another co-conspirator Ivory Palmer, 21, pleaded guilty Jan. 10. All are active duty soldiers with the U.S. Army.

Today, U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo imposed a 30-month-term of imprisonment for Gore, while Williams received 24 months. Both must also serve three years of supervised release following their sentences. In handing down the prison terms, Judge Marmolejo noted that Gore and Williams, as soldiers in the Army, were “not the average citizen,” which justified a tougher sentence. Judge Marmolejo also emphasized that everyone involved in the scheme knew that wearing a uniform would assist in evading detection or arrest.

The investigation began June 13, 2021. On that day, authorities caught Emmanuel Oppongagyare and Ralph Gregory Saint-Joie smuggling undocumented aliens in the trunk of a vehicle at the Border Patrol (BP) checkpoint located in Hebbronville. At the time of arrest, both men were wearing their U.S. Army uniforms.

Oppongagyare later admitted Gore recruited them to pick the aliens up from McAllen and drive them to San Antonio. Oppongagyare and Saint-Joie were indicted and pleaded guilty Aug. 11 and 12, respectively, in 2021. Both are currently awaiting sentencing before U.S. District Judge Diana Saldaña.

A joint investigation later confirmed Oppongagyare, Saint-Joie, Williams and Palmer each served a role in the conspiracy as drivers who would travel to locations in Texas to transport the aliens in exchange for money. Authorities further confirmed that Gore actively recruited people to pick up undocumented aliens.

Both Gore and Williams were permitted to remain on bond and voluntarily surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future. Gore has since been discharged from the Army.

Palmer is currently pending sentencing.

Homeland Security Investigations and U.S. Army Criminal Investigations Division conducted the investigation with the assistance of BP. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brian Bajew and Mark Hicks prosecuted the case.

Topic(s): 
Human Smuggling
Component(s): 
Updated March 25, 2022