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Press Release

Accused Alien Smuggler Appears In Federal Court

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

The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont announced that Roberto Rivera-Ortiz, 27, a resident of the New York City area, appeared today in United States District Court in Burlington on a charge of alien smuggling.  Magistrate Judge John M. Conroy ordered that Rivera-Ortiz be temporarily detained pending another hearing on September 4.

According to court records, on the morning of September 2, 2014, Border Patrol agents in Derby Line encountered a male and a female after they had walked across the border through a clump of trees in a residential area.  When the two individuals noticed a marked Border Patrol cruiser nearby, they began running in a southerly direction.  Agents apprehended the male, who proved to be Jose Segura-Perez, a Mexican national with no status in the United States.  The female at that time evaded capture. 

At about the same time, another Border Patrol agent noticed Rivera-Ortiz standing beside a vehicle on a street in Derby Line, near where the aliens had been encountered.  The hood on Rivera-Ortiz's vehicle was up and he was talking on a cellphone.  Immigrations records showed that Rivera-Ortiz's car had entered Canada at Niagara Falls last June, and had entered the United States at Derby Line earlier that morning.  When questioned about his nationality and immigration status, Rivera-Ortiz appeared nervous.  Agents escorted the defendant to the Newport Border Patrol station, where they soon established that he had transported the two aliens from Montreal to just north of the border, let them out to cross the border on foot, entered the United States lawfully in his car and was in the process of attempting to pick them up to drive them to New York when he was approached by the Border Patrol.

Court records indicate that Border Patrol agents today finally located and arrested the woman who had absconded on September 2.  She is also an undocumented alien.

The United States Attorney emphasizes that the charge in the complaint is merely an accusation and that the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until he is proven guilty.

If convicted, the defendant faces up to ten years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $250.000.  The actual sentence would be determined with reference to federal sentencing guidelines.

Rivera-Ortiz is represented by Assistant Federal Public Defender Stephen Barth.  The prosecutor is Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory Waples.

Updated June 22, 2015