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Press Release

Three admit to attempting to smuggle children into U.S.

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

LAREDO, Texas – Three people in their twenties have entered guilty pleas in separate but similar cases involving the smuggling of minor children in October 2019, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.

Amelia Batres, 22, admitted in federal court today that she attempted to enter the United States with a minor child she falsely claimed was her son, while  Maria Elena Chavez-Valenzuela, 29, pleaded guilty earlier this week and admitted to attempting to enter with a minor child she falsely claimed was her daughter. On Monday, Michael Dimas Tibursio, 22, admitted to similar facts – that he attempted to bring a young child into the country, claiming he was his nephew.

On Oct. 13, 2019, Batres, of Laredo,  attempted to enter the United States at the Juarez–Lincoln International Bridge in Laredo. Batres had presented her real son’s birth certificate in an attempt to pass a 6-year-old who was accompanying her as her child. Authorities questioned the boy who then admitted Batres was not his mother. Batres ultimately admitted the child’s family was going to pay her to smuggle the minor into the United States.

The day prior, Maria Elena Chavez-Valenzuela, of Indianapolis, Indiana, also attempted to enter the United States with a minor, this time via the Gateway to the Americas Bridge in Laredo. She claimed that the 10-year-old female was her daughter. However, Chavez-Valenzuela eventually admitted she had been hired to smuggle the girl into the United States and was going to be paid $5,000 if successful.

In a third, yet similar case, Michael Dimas Tibursio, also of Indianapolis, arrived at the Juarez–Lincoln International Bridge in Laredo on a passenger bus Oct. 25. A 5-year-old boy was accompanying him. Tibursio told authorities that the boy was his nephew and presented a document he claimed was the boy’s birth certificate. Authorities soon determined the boy was actually a Mexican citizen and was not related to Tibursio. Tibursio later admitted he was being paid to smuggle the boy to family members in Indianapolis.

All will remain in custody pending sentencing.

U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo will impose Chavez-Valenzuela’s sentencing April 22, while Tibursio and Batres will be sentenced at a date to be determined before U.S. District Judge Diana Saldaña.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection conducted all three investigations. Assistant U.S. Attorney David Fawcett is prosecuting the cases.

Updated January 9, 2020

Human Smuggling