Skip to main content
Press Release

Four Guatemalan Nationals Charged In Alien Smuggling Event

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 on September 14, 2018, four Guatemalan citizens—Carlos Jose Cordova-Sanabria, Lester Ariel Morales-Moran, Elmer Estuardo Juarez-Franco, and Daniel Garcia-Cruz—were arrested and charged in connection with an alien smuggling event in the Newport, Vermont area.  The four defendants appeared today in federal court in Burlington before United States Magistrate Judge John M. Conroy and entered pleas of not guilty to the federal charges.  The Court ordered Cordova-Sanabria, Morales-Moran, and Juarez-Franco detained pending trial.  Garcia-Cruz’s detention hearing will take place on September 19.

According to the Criminal Complaint, in the early morning hours of September 13, 2018, Border Patrol Agents received information of possible illegal activity in an area east of the Beebe Plain Port of Entry in Newport, Vermont. Agents responded to the area and observed individuals walking into a wooded area. Agents later observed a vehicle arrive in the same general area. A U.S. Border Patrol Agent witnessed three individuals appear from a wooded area and enter this same vehicle.  Agents stopped the vehicle and identified the driver as Garcia-Cruz. Garcia-Cruz and the three passengers were all confirmed to be aliens without documentation allowing them to be in the United States legally.

United States Attorney Christina Nolan recognized the efforts of law enforcement on both sides of the border to address international human smuggling:  “I commend our partners in the U.S. Border Patrol for their outstanding work in stemming the flow of smuggled individuals into Vermont.  Preserving the integrity of the border will continue to be a top priority for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and we will continue working with our partners at all levels of law enforcement in Vermont and Canada to dismantle criminal organizations that operate across our border.

The United States Attorney emphasizes that the charges are merely accusations, and that the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until they are proven guilty.

The Swanton Sector Border Patrol is responsible for securing the land border between ports of entry in Vermont as well as New Hampshire and northeastern New York. The assistance of citizens is invaluable in helping the U.S. Border Patrol accomplish their border security mission and they welcome community members to help them keep our nation’s borders safe by reporting suspicious activity at 1-800-689-3362.

For more on CBP’s mission at our nation’s ports of entry with CBP officers and along U.S. borders with Border Patrol agents, please visit the Border Security section of the CBP website.

The prosecutor in this case is Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Van de Graaf. Daniel Garcia-Cruz is represented by Assistant Federal Defender David McColgin.  Robert Behrens represents Cordova-Sanabria, Morales-Moran, and Estuardo Juarez-Franco.

Updated September 17, 2018

Human Smuggling