Leader And Others Ordered To Federal Prison In Alien Smuggling Conspiracy
HOUSTON – Lenyn Acosta, 33, and three others have been ordered to prison for their roles in a conspiracy to transport or harbor aliens illegally present in the country, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Mexican National Acosta pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transport aliens as did Debora Baldizon, 37, of Nicaragua, and Maurisio Hernandez-Chinchilla, 32, and Franklin Gutieres, 33, both of Honduras.
Today, U.S. District Judge Melinda Harmon, who accepted all the guilty pleas, handed Acosta a total sentence of 97 months in federal prison. In handing down the sentence, Judge Harmon found Acosta was the organizer and leader of an ongoing and extensive conspiracy involving hundreds of undocumented aliens, to include juveniles. Judge Harmon also found Acosta caused serious bodily injury to a female alien he harbored by sexually assaulting her during the course of the conspiracy. At the hearing today, that victim testified about the impact the crime has had on her life.
Baldizon and Hernanez-Chinchilla were also sentenced today to a respective terms of 30 and 12 months in prison. Gutieres was sentenced on May 23, 2014, to a 12-month term of imprisonment.
As illegal aliens, all are expected to face deportation proceedings following release from prison.
Charges in the case stem from an investigation that began in July 2012 after federal agents received information that Acosta was involved in organizing temporary housing for aliens smuggled to Houston. He then coordinated their transportation by means of motor vehicle to different locations throughout the United States.
In May 2014, Hernandez-Chinchilla and Gutieres were arrested in connection with arranging the transportation of eight aliens illegally present in the U.S. Later, agents executed a search warrant at a residence in Houston which was being used by Acosta and his conspirators to stash aliens awaiting transportation. Agents encountered 13 additional aliens illegally present in the country.
All will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
The investigation leading to the charges in this case was conducted by Homeland Security Investigations. Assistant United States Attorney Casey N. MacDonald is prosecuting the case.