Sixth Smuggler Sent to Prison in Massive Stash House Case in Houston
HOUSTON – The final man arrested in connection with the March 2014 discovery of more than 100 illegal aliens in an area stash house has been ordered to federal prison, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson.
Benjamin Granados-Lupian, 32, pleaded guilty approximately one month after his arrest. He was convicted of conspiracy to harbor and transport illegal aliens and use of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence as were co-conspirators Jose Aviles-Villa, 32, Antonio Barruquet-Hildeberta, 46, Jonathan Solorzano-Tavila, 30, Jose Cesmas-Borja, 26, and Eugenio Sesmas-Borja, 20. All of the smugglers are from Michoacan, Mexico.
Today, U.S. District Judge Melinda Harmon, handed Granados-Lupian a sentence of 63 months in federal prison for the conspiracy charge. He also received a consecutive 60-month sentence for the use of a firearm, resulting in a total sentence of 123 months of federal imprisonment. Aviles-Villa, Barruquet-Hildeberta, Solorzano-Tavila, Sesmas-Borja and Cesmas-Borja were previously sentenced by U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal to terms between 111 and 123 months. As illegal aliens, they are all expected to face deportation proceedings following release from prison.
The stash house was discovered on March 19, 2014, on Almeda School Road in Houston with 115 illegal aliens inside.
The convicted smugglers admitted they obtained substantial profits as a result of the conspiracy. They had established networks who brought the aliens into the U.S. illegally across the Southwest border. The illegal aliens were then held in stash houses while the smugglers arranged payment of remaining smuggling fees from their families.
While in the stash house, the conspirators seized the victim aliens’ clothes, shoes, phones and other possessions. The conspirators used guns, paddles, tasers and other equipment to control and prevent the illegal aliens from escaping from the stash house. They also guarded the aliens with guns displayed in plain view and threatened to kill them by shooting them in the back of the head if they tried to escape.
In one specific instance, the conspirators contacted the mother of one of the stashed aliens and told her to pay an additional $13,000 for the victim and her two children. She was advised that if she did not pay, they would “make her family disappear and make her family pay.”
Granados-Lupian will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
The case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations with the assistance of the Houston Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) Julie Searle and Special AUSA Rick Bennett are prosecuting.