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Press Release

Three convicted in alien smuggling plot for Mexican cartel

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

LAREDO, Texas – Three individuals have pleaded guilty to their roles in a human smuggling conspiracy involving the Cartel del Noreste (CDN), announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.

Laredo residents Bernardo Aniceto Garza, 26, and Francisco Suarez, 19; and Mexican citizen Luis Daniel Segura Guzman, 25, each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transport undocumented aliens.

“The cartels are increasing the use of social media as part of their illegal business model,” said Hamdani. “Applications, such as Facebook, allow these organizations to advertise human smuggling services to large audiences along the U.S. border. In this case, the Facebook ads helped facilitate the transportation of women and children by smugglers armed with dangerous weapons.”

On Aug. 23, 2023, authorities discovered a Facebook post that appeared to be advertising transportation services for undocumented aliens via sleeper cabs of tractor trailers. An undercover investigation revealed Segura coordinated the transportation of three undocumented aliens for approximately $8,000. Law enforcement learned Segura arranged for a black Ford Raptor to make the pickup in Laredo that afternoon.

Authorities spotted a black Ford Raptor arrive at the meet location. Garza was driving. Undercover law enforcement then contacted Segura to cancel the previously arranged pickup. Garza left and travelled to a nearby parking lot to pick up three other individuals. He then transported them to a truck yard and loaded the aliens into a parked tractor. Authorities stopped Garza’s vehicle minutes after he left the truck yard and located a firearm inside the Ford Raptor. 

Law enforcement approached the tractor and located two women and a 15-year-old minor inside the vehicle. All three were citizens of Mexico and El Salvador and illegally present in the United States.

On Sept. 16, 2023, authorities encountered Segura in Laredo and identified him as a citizen of Mexico, illegally present in the United States. Segura admitted the CDN had recruited him in Mexico to smuggle aliens and that he worked with Suarez to do so. Law enforcement located a cell phone in Segura’s possession that was still logged into the Facebook account used to advertise and coordinate the smuggling event.  

On Sept. 19, 2023, authorities apprehended Suarez in a separate smuggling attempt during which he was acting as a scout. Suarez admitted he worked for Garza and provided him with the three migrants he was caught transporting Aug. 23, 2023.

U.S. District Judge Diana Saldana will set sentencing at later date. At that time, each faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine.  

Suarez and Guzman will remain in custody pending that hearing, while Garza was permitted to remain on bond.

Laredo Police Department, Border Patrol and Homeland Security Investigations conducted the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) investigation with the assistance of Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations and the Texas Department of Public Safety. OCDETF identifies, disrupts and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found on the Department of Justice’s OCDETF webpage. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Day is prosecuting the case.

The case is supported through Joint Task Force Alpha (JTFA). Attorney General Merrick B. Garland created JTFA in June 2021 in partnership with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to strengthen the Justice Department’s overall efforts to combat the rise in prolific and dangerous smuggling emanating from Central America and impacting our border communities. JTFA is comprised of detailees from southwest border U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, including the Southern and Western Districts of Texas, District of New Mexico, District of Arizona and Southern District of California. Numerous components of the Criminal Division are part of JTFA and provide dedicated support for the program which the Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section leads. The Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training; Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section; Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section; Office of Enforcement Operations; Office of International Affairs and Violent Crime and Racketeering Section also provide support. JTFA also relies on substantial law enforcement investment from DHS, FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration and other partners. To date, JTFA’s work has resulted in over 265 domestic and international arrests of leaders, organizers and significant facilitators of human smuggling; more than 200 convictions; significant jail sentences imposed; and substantial asset forfeiture. 

Updated January 18, 2024

Human Smuggling