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Press Release

Four Men Appear In Federal Court for Immigration Crimes

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

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – United States Attorney Mike Stuart announced today that four men appeared in federal court before Senior United States District Judge John T. Copenhaver, Jr. to enter guilty pleas and then receive sentences.

“These four defendants have 11 prior removals between them,” said United States Attorney Mike Stuart.  “That is 11 times they’ve skipped line.  No one likes a line skipper- not at Disney World and not at our border.  They need to follow the necessary process to legally enter the United States.”

Felix Hernandez, Jose Avila-Salmeron, Jorge Lanche-Bustos, and Pastor Lara-Parez, each entered a plea of guilty to the felony offense of illegally reentering the United States.  After entering guilty pleas, the Court proceeded directly to the sentencing phase of the proceedings.  Felix Hernandez received a sentence of six months incarceration, Jose Avila-Salmaron and Lanche-Bustos received sentences of “credit for time served” and Pastor Lara-Perez received eight months federal incarceration.  At the conclusion of their sentence of federal incarceration, they will be immediately remanded to the custody of the Department of Homeland Security for removal proceedings.  They have all been in federal custody since September 5, 2019.  The investigations were conducted by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and assisted by the Montgomery Police Department.

On September 5, 2019, all four men were found in Montgomery, Kanawaha County, West Virginia.  Federal agents with ICE had received information from the Montgomery Police Department that the men were working on a railroad project and were not United States citizens.  ICE agents investigated the information, corroborated the details, and subsequently located the four men at the described location.  ICE agents approached the four men and requested identification from them.  All four men produced foreign identification documents and immediately admitted that they were not in the United States legally.  They also had no identification documents permitting them legal status.  ICE agents took the four men into federal custody. Fingerprinting matched all four men to prior removals from the United States and all four had prior removals from the United States to Mexico.   None of the men had obtained permission to legally enter the United States and had not sought legal status or citizenship.  All four further admitted to ICE agents that they were Mexican citizens.

Felix Hernandez, 39, had a prior New Jersey felony drug conviction from 2007 and was removed from the United States to Mexico after this felony conviction.  Jose Avila-Salmaron, 44,  had two prior removals from the United States to Mexico in 2010 and 2017.  Jorge Lanche-Bustos had two prior removals from the United States to Mexico in 2015 and 2016.  Pastor Lara-Perez, 38, had six prior removals from the United States to Mexico including three removals in 2010, and one in each of the years 2013, 2015, and 2016.

Senior United States District Judge John T. Copenhaver, Jr., presided over all of the hearings. Assistant United States Attorney Erik S. Goes is responsible for the prosecutions.  


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Updated December 18, 2019