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Justice News

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

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Smugglers Who Extorted And Threatened Victims Sentenced To Prison

McALLEN, Texas ‐ Ivan Cabrera and Michael Ayala, both of Edinburg, and Mexican National Maria Isabel Rivera-Castillo have been sentenced to federal prison as a result of their convictions for smuggling undocumented aliens, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Cabrera, 23, Ayala, 27, and Rivera-Castillo, 52, all pleaded guilty on varying dates in November 2013.  

Today, U.S. District Judge Randy Crane sentenced Cabrera to a sentence of 63 months imprisonment, while Rivera and Ayala received respective sentences of 52 and 33 months. The sentences were enhanced as the court took into consideration the fact that while in the defendants’ custody, the aliens were beaten and threatened with physical and sexual violence. The defendants held the undocumented aliens for days and, in some cases, weeks to extort monies from their families in exchange for their release.

Cabrera, Ayala and Rivera-Castillo have been in custody since their arrest on Sept. 27, 2013. Following their terms of imprisonment, Cabrera and Ayala will serve three years of supervised release, while Rivera is expected to face deportation proceedings following her release from prison.

The investigation was conducted by Homeland Security Investigations, Border Patrol and Edinburg Police Department. Assistant United States Attorneys Kristen Rees and Kimberly Ann Leo prosecuted the case.

Updated April 30, 2015