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Press Release

Mexican National Convicted In Alien Smuggling Scheme To Steal Fees From Aliens And Their Families

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

‪McALLEN, Texas – Pedro Rayon-Perez, 26, has been convicted of harboring undocumented aliens, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. The Mexican National entered a guilty plea just moments ago as he was set to begin trial.

Rayon-Perez had been charged in an indictment returned Aug. 28, 2012, along with Roxanna Leal, 25, of McAllen, and Mexican Nationals Luis Aguilar-Hernandez, 41, and Osiel Castillo, 45, who had previously entered guilty pleas in the case.

The investigation revealed Rayon-Perez coordinated a smuggling ring that involved five undocumented aliens who crossed into the United States on Nov. 12, 2011. Rayon-Perez, Leal and Aguilar-Hernandez had agreed to demand payment of the aliens’ smuggling fees from their families while they held the aliens at stash houses in McAllen and Pharr. The aliens had previously agreed to pay the remainder of their fees once they arrived in Houston. However, the defendants planned to coerce early payment of these fees from their families and release them in public places throughout the Rio Grande Valley, not in Houston. They had previously conducted similar scams against other smuggled aliens. 

The investigation began when Rayon-Perez convinced the family of a pregnant alien and her husband to wire $4,800, after which he double-crossed Aguilar-Hernandez by failing to divide the proceeds. When Aguilar-Hernandez demanded additional payment from the aliens, the family sought law enforcement assistance. The San Juan Police Department, assisted by the United States Marshals Service, conducted a tactical operation that freed the aliens on Nov. 17, 2011, from the stash house where Aguilar-Hernandez and Leal were harboring the aliens.

U.S. District Judge Randy Crane, who accepted all the pleas on the case, has set sentencing for June 20, 2013, for Rayon-Perez and  Aguilar-Hernandez, while the other two will be sentenced on June 13, 2013, at 2:00 p.m. At sentencing, all four face up to 10 years imprisonment. With the exception of Leal, who was permitted to remain on bond, all will remain in custody pending their respective hearings. 

The case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations with assistance from the San Juan Police Department. Assistant United States Attorneys Grady J. Leupold and Leo J. Leo III are prosecuting the case.

Updated April 30, 2015