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Justice News

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

Monday, April 13, 2015

Three Men Sentenced In Alien Smuggling Conspiracy

HOUSTON – Three people have been sentenced for their involvement in a conspiracy to harbor and transport illegal aliens, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson along with Brian Moskowitz, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). Jose Heriberto Lopez, 42, Jose Arenas-Lucero, 51, and Miguel Angel Medina-Ortiz, 37, pleaded guilty in September, October and November 2014, respectively.

Today, U.S. District Judge Vanessa Gilmore considered relevant conduct for an incident in Oklahoma which involved the death of an alien being transported by Lopez. As a result, he received a sentence of 70 months in federal prison. Arenas-Lucero and Medina-Ortiz received respective sentences of 24 and 18 months. All are all citizens of Mexico who had resided in Houston and expected to face deportation proceedings following completion of their federal prison sentences.

Lopez and others engaged in a conspiracy to harbor and transport illegal aliens from April 2014, until his arrest June 12, 2014. Authorities discovered a stash house in Houston following a 911 call. HSI ultimately discovered 34 undocumented aliens being held in the house that had boarded up windows. 

The undocumented aliens claimed the defendants would take their shoes, phones and other property upon entry into the home.  The illegal aliens were detained at the house by guards until their families had paid the rest of their bill for transportation further into the United States. Lopez and Arenas-Lucero were guards in the home and occasionally drove the aliens to their next destination. Medina-Ortiz was involved in the payment portion of the scheme.

The three defendants have been and will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

HSI investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Celia Moyer prosecuted the case.

Updated April 30, 2015