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Human Smuggling/Trafficking
04/12/2012

2 Houston alien smugglers sentenced to prison

HOUSTON — Two illegal aliens were sentenced to federal prison Thursday for conspiracy to transport and harbor illegal aliens, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. This investigation was conducted by the Houston Police Department (HPD) and U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Denis Sosa, 20, an illegal alien from Mexico, and Luis Enrique Solorio, 21, an illegal alien from Honduras, were sentenced by U.S. District Judge David Hittner to 27 and 33 months in federal prison, respectively. Both men are expected to face deportation proceedings after they complete their prison terms. Both had previously pleaded guilty to the charges and to being illegal aliens unlawfully possessing firearms.

On Oct. 24, 2011, HPD officers obtained information regarding possible narcotics trafficking occurring at a residence on Avenue K in Houston. Officers observed Sosa and Ulises Barriga, 21, also an illegal alien from Mexico, exit an upper and lower residence of the structure, enter a vehicle, and leave. Officers attempted to stop the vehicle but the driver, Barriga, accelerated and attempted to flee. He was forced to a stop at a dead end, at which time Barriga and Sosa jumped from the vehicle and continued to flee on foot. They were eventually subdued and arrested.

Officers then entered the residences, and they observed Solorio in the upper residence and numerous smuggled aliens, most wearing only underwear, leap out of the second story windows trying to escape. All were apprehended shortly afterwards.

HSI subsequently interviewed the aliens and determined they were illegally in the United States. A number of the aliens had been transported to the residence in vehicles driven by unknown co-conspirators. Several aliens claimed Solorio told them to call family members to pay smuggling fees; and they saw him carrying a pistol in his waistband. They also claimed Solorio instructed them to take off their clothes to make it more difficult for them to escape. Several aliens also identified Sosa and Barriga as alien smugglers working in concert with Solorio; and they stated Sosa brandished a long gun. Officers recovered a pump action 12-gauge shotgun and a .45-caliber pistol in the residence.

Sosa and Solorio have been in custody where they will remain pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prison facility in the near future. Barriga, who is also in custody, will be sentenced April 19; he faces a maximum of 10 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Doug Davis, Southern District of Texas, is prosecuting the case.