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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Texas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, March 22, 2018

Smugglers Sent to Prison for Transporting Aliens in Tractor-Trailer

LAREDO, Texas – Two men and a woman have been sent to federal prison for their participation in a smuggling attempt in the back of a tractor-trailer, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick. Minkah Ra Rashaad and Sherine Ovanna Watson, both 28, and 30-year-old Jesus Roberto Contreras pleaded guilty Nov. 2, 2017, to conspiracy to transport undocumented aliens.

Today, visiting U.S. Appellate Judge Kimberly Moore sentenced Contreras, of Laredo, to 97 months in prison, while Rashaad, of Washington D.C., and Watson, of Suitland, Maryland, to 30 and 18 months in prison, respectively. Contreras will also serve three years of supervised release, while the other two will be on supervised release for two years following completion of their sentences. Contreras’s lengthy sentence is due to his prior criminal history and his involvement in multiple other alien smuggling events.

On March 14, 2017, Contreras recruited Rashaad and Watson to smuggle several undocumented aliens in the back of a tractor-trailer from Laredo past the Border Patrol checkpoint on IH-35 north. Contreras loaded the aliens into the trailer and also scouted for law enforcement. Rashaad and Watson never made it to the checkpoint as law enforcement stopped the tractor-trailer in downtown Laredo and discovered the hidden aliens.

Contreras and Watson are in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future, while Rashaad was permitted to remain on bond and voluntarily surrender at a later date.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation with the assistance of the Laredo Police Department. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Lisa M. Ezra prosecuted the case.

Topic(s): 
Human Smuggling
Component(s): 
Updated March 22, 2018