Mexican nationals get 9 years for stashing 115 immigrants in Texas house

CNN
Thursday, July 31, 2014 - 11:13am

Three of the five men arrested in connection with the March discovery of more than 100 illegal aliens in an area stash house have been ordered to federal prison.

These sentences were announced by U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas, along with Special Agent in Charge Brian Moskowitz, of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Houston. One month after their arrest, all five of the following men from Michoacan, Mexico, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to harbor and transport illegal aliens, and using a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence:

  • Jonathan Solorzano-Tavila, 30,
  • Jose Cesmas-Borja, 26,
  • Eugenio Sesmas-Borja, 20,
  • Jose Aviles-Villa, 32, and
  • Antonio Barruquet-Hildeberta, 46.

Solorzano-Tavila, Sesmas-Borja and Cesmas-Borja were sentenced by U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal, to respective terms of 60, 54 and 51 months in federal prison for the conspiracy charge. In addition, each will serve consecutive 60-month sentences for using a firearm resulting in total sentences ranging from 120 to 111 months in federal prison. As illegal aliens, they are all expected to face deportation proceedings after they complete their prison sentences. Aviles-Villa and Barruquet-Hildeberta are scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 4.

"These men, who supported alien smuggling and alien harboring, placed their personal profit ahead of public safety and border security," said Moskowitz. "The resulting prison sentences should remind others involved in this dangerous trade of the severe consequences of their actions."

The five men were arrested March 19. On that date, 115 illegal aliens were discovered in a stash house on Almeda School Road in Houston.

The convicted smugglers admitted they obtained substantial profits as a result of the conspiracy. They had established networks that brought the aliens into the U.S. illegally across the Southwest border. The illegal aliens were then held in stash houses while the smugglers arranged payment of remaining smuggling fees from their families.

While in the stash house, the conspirators seized the smuggled aliens' clothes, shoes, phones and other possessions. The conspirators used guns, paddles, tasers and other equipment to control and prevent the illegal aliens from escaping the stash house. They guarded the aliens with guns displayed in plain view and threatened to kill them by shooting them in the back of the head if they tried to escape.

In one specific instance, the conspirators contacted the mother of one of the stashed aliens and told her to pay an additional $13,000 for the victim and her two children. She was advised that if she did not pay, they would "make her family disappear and make her family pay."
They will all remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

This case was investigated by HSI with assistance provided by the Houston Police Department.

Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) Julie Searle and Special AUSA Rick Bennett, Southern District of Texas, are prosecuting this case.
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