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Press Release

Three Arrested in Attempted Human Smuggling Event Near Morses Line

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

Burlington, Vermont - The United States Attorney for the District of Vermont announced that three persons were arrested near Morses Line on February 19, 2023 in connection with an attempt to smuggle individuals without legal status into the United States.  Aaron Cruz-Castelazo, 32, a Mexican national who has no immigration status in the United States, and Marcos Rosas-Mendoza, 34, also a Mexican national without status here, appeared Wednesday in United States District Court in Burlington on a charge that they attempted to transport individuals without legal status within the United States.  Emmanuel Moheno-Gomez, 30, a citizen of Mexico without legal status in the United States, appeared in court yesterday on a charge that he unlawfully entered the country.  U.S. Magistrate Judge Kevin J. Doyle ordered that all three defendants be held without bail pending trial.  Two other individuals without status in the United States who were apprehended with Moheno-Gomez were released to immigration custody for removal from the United States.  

According to public court documents, in the late afternoon of February 19, law enforcement officials in Canada notified the Border Patrol in Vermont that a vehicle had dropped off three individuals just north of the border in Canada.  Believing that the individuals were planning to enter the United States on foot, Border Patrol agents responded to the area and eventually apprehended three Mexican nationals, including Moheno-Gomez.  During that investigation, agents also encountered a rental vehicle with North Carolina license plates.  An agent stopped that vehicle when it drove to the area just south of the border where the three individuals likely would have crossed into the United States.  Agents detained the driver, Cruz-Castelazo, and the passenger, Rosas-Mendoza.  Agents later determined that Rosas-Mendoza had been in cellphone communication with one of the three individuals as they walked across the border. 
The United States Attorney emphasizes that the charges against these defendants are merely accusations, and that the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until they are proven guilty.

As currently charged, Cruz-Castelazo and Rosas-Mendoza face up to five years of imprisonment if convicted.  The unlawful entry charge against Moheno-Gomez is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months of imprisonment.  The actual sentences would be determined with reference to the Federal 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. 

Rosas-Mendoza is represented by Assistant Federal Public Defender Steven Barth.  Cruz-Castelazo is represented by Robert Katims, Esq.  Moheno-Gomez is represented by John-Claude Charbonneau, Esq.  The prosecutor is Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory Waples.


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Tel: (802) 951-6725

Updated February 24, 2023

Human Smuggling