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Press Release

Seven Arrested in Human Smuggling Event Near Morses Line

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

The United States Attorney for the District of Vermont announced that seven persons were arrested near Morses Line on October 12, 2022 in connection with what is believed to be an attempt to smuggle individuals without legal status into the United States. Manuel Molina-Romero, 29, a Honduran national who has been living in Texas since 2019 while awaiting an immigration hearing, and Estefany Arreaga-Herrera, 23, a Guatemalan national who has been living in Texas since 2016 while also awaiting an immigration hearing, appeared today in United States District Court in Burlington on a charge that they transported individuals without legal status within the United States.  Two of the five individuals being transported, Carlos Aguiar-Ovando, 23, a Mexican national, and Anvar Ataev, 36, a native of Uzbekistan, both of whom have no legal status in the United States, also appeared in court today on a charge that they unlawfully entered the country.  United States Magistrate Judge Kevin J. Doyle ordered that all four defendants be detained pending further court proceedings.  The other three individuals arrested on October 12, all without legal status in the United States, were taken into immigration custody for expedited removal from the United States.  

The United States Attorney emphasizes that the charges in the criminal complaints are merely accusations, and that the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until they are proven guilty.  The transportation charge is punishable by up to ten years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000.  The unlawful entry charge is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months of imprisonment.  The actual sentences on the felony charges would be determined with reference to United States Sentencing Guidelines.  

U.S. Attorney Nikolas P. Kerest credited the agents of the United States Border Patrol for their continued efforts to prevent the exploitation of foreign nationals by human smuggling organizations. 

Molina-Romero is represented by the Office of the Federal Public Defender.  Arreaga-Herrera is represented by Devin McLaughlin, Esq.  Aguiar-Ovando is represented by Bob Behrens, Esq., and Ataev is represented by William Kraham, Esq.  The prosecutor is Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory Waples.

Updated October 17, 2022

Human Smuggling