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Press Release

Jury Convicts El Salvadorian National for Immigration Offense

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

BROWNSVILLE, Texas – A 60-year-old from El Salvador has been convicted of illegal re-entry after deportation, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.

The jury deliberated for less than an hour after a one-day trial before convicting Her Onan Cienfuegos-Rivas.

The jury heard that authorities found Cienfuegos-Rivas in McAllen after having been deported. Convicted of possession of cocaine in California in 1989, he was deported thereafter.

Cienfuegos-Rivas turned himself into Border Patrol (BP) on March 19, 2019. At that time, he claimed he had crossed into the United States near Rio Grande City on a raft and was held in stash houses in an attempt to visit his family in California.

He eventually called Border Patrol to pick him up because he just wanted to go home.

At trial, the defense argued he was not in the country voluntarily because he was being held against his will at the stash houses.

The jury was not convinced and found him guilty as charged.

U.S. District Judge Rolando Olvera presided over the trial and set sentencing for Aug. 21, 2019, at which time Cienfuegos-Rivas faces up to 10 years in federal prison. He will remains in custody pending that hearing.

Customs and Border Protection Agents conducted the investigation with the assistance of BP. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Justin S. Dinsdale and Paul Marian prosecuted the case.

Updated May 21, 2019