Two Men Charged With Alien Smuggling
The United States Attorney’s Office and the Swanton Sector of the United States Border Patrol announce that Irvin Munoz-Diaz, 23, a citizen of Mexico who now lives in Canada, and Candido Emanuel Noriega-Quezada, 20, a Guatemalan citizen who lives in Rhode Island, appeared yesterday in United States District Court in Burlington on a charge that they conspired to smuggle and transport five illegal aliens into and within the United States. U.S. Magistrate Judge John M. Conroy released Noriega-Quezada on conditions but ordered that Munoz-Diaz be detained pending further proceedings on February 7.
According to the criminal complaint, on the evening of February 2, agents at the Beechers Falls Border Patrol station learned that a group of persons were entering the United States from Canada, near an area known as Peewee’s fence line in Canaan. Agents followed footprints in the snow that appeared to have come from Canada. Agents found six people, including the defendant Munoz-Diaz, hiding in the snow and tree brush. Five of those persons were citizens of Romania who have no status in the United States and who were going to pay to be smuggled across the border into the United States.
About one-half hour after the aliens were intercepted, other agents encountered the defendant Noriega-Quezada driving a car with Rhode Island license plates near Peewee’s fence line. Investigation showed that Noriega-Quezada had been in cellphone contact with Munoz-Diaz and had been recruited to meet up with Munoz-Diaz in Vermont, pick up the aliens and drive them back to Rhode Island. For his efforts, Noriega-Quezada was to be paid $1000.
The United States Attorney emphasizes that the charge in the complaint is merely an accusation, and that the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until they are proven guilty.
If convicted, the defendants face up to five years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000. The actual sentence would be determined with reference to federal sentencing guidelines.
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.
Munoz-Diaz is represented by Federal Public Defender Michael Desautels and Noriega-Quezada is represented by David Watts. The prosecutor is Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory Waples.