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Press Release

Six Now Convicted In Alien Smuggling Conspiracy

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

HOUSTON – With the guilty plea of Mexican national Francisco Chao-Martinez, 31, six people have now been convicted in relation to a conspiracy to transport aliens illegally present in the country, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. Chao-Martinez was among six originally charged in an ongoing conspiracy to enrich themselves by harboring and transporting smuggled aliens. Juan Carlos Solis-Sanchez, 31, of Mexico, Daniel Sanchez-Cabarello, 31, of El Salvador, and Edgar Carranza-Espinal, 36, and Carlos Benegas-Benetiz, 36, both of Honduras, previously entered guilty pleas to conspiracy to transport aliens. A sixth defendant, Fredis Sanchez-Martinez, 22, of Honduras, was convicted of conspiracy to harbor aliens illegal present in the United States.

Charges in the case stem from an investigation that began in January 2013 after federal agents received information that Chao-Martinez 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 June 2013, Chao-Martinez, Solis-Sanchez and Sanchez-Caballero were arrested in connection with arranging the transportation of 14 aliens illegally present in the United States. Later, agents executed a search warrant at a residence in Houston which was being used by Chao-Martinez and his conspirators to stash aliens awaiting transportation. Agents encountered 10 additional aliens illegally present in the United States. Agents also encountered Sanchez-Martinez, Cararranza-Espinal and Benegas-Benetiz, all of whom were determined to be employees of Chao-Martinez involved in the alien smuggling conspiracy.

U.S. District Judge Sim Lake has set sentencing for Chao-Martinez on Oct. 24, 2013, while the others will be sentenced Oct. 22, 2013. All face up to 10 years imprisonment and a possible $250,000 fine.

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.

Updated April 30, 2015