Two Trials End in Guilty Verdicts
LAREDO, Texas – Two men have been convicted of transporting illegal aliens in two separate, unrelated cases and trials, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Both verdicts were returned following one-day trials and less than an hour of deliberation.
A federal jury convicted Armando Catalino Escobar-Martinez, 19, of Guatemala, today, while another jury convicted Edgar Mariano Hernandez-Caal, 21, of Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, yesterday. Both men were found guilty of transporting illegal aliens.
According to testimony in the first case, in June 2016 Escobar-Martinez served as a guide leading other undocumented aliens across the Rio Grande River towards Laredo. Witnesses described Escobar-Martinez acting as a guide and leading the group of eight aliens, one of whom was his sister.
The defense argued that Escobar-Martinez would not have been a guide since his sister was part of the group and that they were trying to come into the U.S. together. The defense also attempted to convince the jury that he did not fit the description of a typical guide, simply because he was from Guatemala, not Mexico.
The jury did not believe those claims and found Escobar-Martinez guilty as charged.
In the other separate yet strikingly similar matter, Hernandez-Caal assisted other persons in transporting a different group of undocumented aliens across the Rio Grande River towards Laredo. The jury heard from witnesses who described Hernandez-Caal acting as a guide and leading the group of eight aliens into Texas in July 2016. Border Patrol agents ultimately discovered the eight undocumented aliens who were subsequently detained.
Hernandez-Caal testified at trial and admitted to illegally entering the U.S. However, he denied acting as a guide or having any involvement in the transportation of undocumented aliens into the through the U.S.
The jury was not convinced and found him guilty as charged.
U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo presided over both cases and will set sentencing hearings at a later date. At those times, each defendant will face up to 10 years in federal prison. They will remain in custody pending their hearings.
Border Patrol conducted both investigations. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sarah Ellison and Christopher dos Santos are prosecuting the cases.