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Press Release

Colombian National Living in Illinois Charged with Unlawful Transportation of Foreign Nationals in Vermont

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

The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont stated that Sebastian Buitrago-Valero, 23, of Chicago, Illinois, was indicted by a federal grand jury on November 10, 2022 on a charge of unlawfully transporting individuals he knew to have entered the United States illegally. Buitrago-Valero was arraigned on that charge this afternoon in United States District Court in Burlington, and he entered a plea of not guilty. The defendant remains detained pending further proceedings pursuant to a prior detention order issued by U.S. Magistrate Judge Kevin J. Doyle.

According to public documents in the case, on the evening of October 27, 2022, Border Patrol Agents were notified by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police that two individuals had just entered the United States near Ballard Road—a remote and rural location in the town of Highgate Center, Vermont. A United States Border Patrol Agent responded to the area and observed a blue Hyundai sedan with an out-of-state registration stop at the intersection of Ballard Road and Rollo Road, approximately one-half mile south of the international border. The agent then observed two individuals emerge from a ditch near the intersection and enter the sedan. The agent stopped the vehicle and identified its driver as Sebastian Buitrago-Valero. The agent determined that Buitrago-Valero was a Colombian citizen who had been arrested upon illegally entering the United States in November 2021, but he was thereafter released into the United States pending immigration court proceedings. The agent identified the two passengers in the vehicle and determined both were Colombian citizens who had just entered the United States illegally from Canada. Agents later determined that both passengers had also illegally entered the United States and been arrested earlier in 2022.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office emphasizes that an indictment is an accusation only and that the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. As currently charged, Buitrago-Valero would face up to 5 years of imprisonment if convicted. Any sentence in the case will be advised by the United States Sentencing Guidelines. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Lasher represents the United States in this case. Buitrago-Valero is represented by Assistant Federal Public Defender Mary Nerino.

Updated November 14, 2022

Human Smuggling