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Press Release

Two Human Smugglers Sentenced to Federal Prison for Hostage Taking

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

EL PASO, Texas – A Mexican national was sentenced in federal court in El Paso Wednesday to 144 months in prison, along with an El Paso man who was sentenced to 200 months in prison, for violation of federal law concerning hostage taking.

According to court documents, Carlos Villa-Miranda aka “Negro,” 42 of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, and Enrique Quiroz Jr. aka “Kike,” 50 of El Paso were co-conspirators in a human smuggling organization through which they demanded money from the families of the undocumented individuals they were trafficking.  Quiroz threatened to kill the trafficking victims if they were to speak to the police and urged the victims to tell their families to pay the ransoms.  Villa-Miranda also made threats toward the undocumented individuals, on at least one occasion brandishing a butcher-style knife.

In December 2020, Villa-Miranda was arrested after he fled a secondary inspection at the Las Cruces U.S. Border Patrol Checkpoint on Interstate-10, and Quiroz was taken into custody during a search of his apartment.

“These human smuggling organizations are incredibly dangerous and prove that they value their pursuit of money and power through unlawful means far more than the lives of their trafficking victims,” said U.S. Attorney Jaime Esparza of the Western District of Texas.  “The agents with the Department of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) did an outstanding job tracking down these two criminals and putting a stop to their roles as human smugglers.”

“These sentences show the grave consequences human smugglers face when they exploit people in such a ruthless way,” said Special Agent in Charge Francisco B. Burrola of the HSI El Paso Division.  “HSI is vehemently committed to using its ample authority to identify, investigate and arrest criminals who prey on the vulnerabilities of their human cargo with threats and acts of violence.”

HSI investigated the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Adam Hines and Sarah Valenzuela prosecuted the case, along with former Assistant U.S. Attorneys Herbert Bunton and Spencer Kiggins.


Updated February 21, 2023

Human Smuggling