LAKE CHARLES, La. - Members of a large scale illegal alien transportation operation based in Sulphur, La., were sentenced in federal court yesterday following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.
U. S. District Judge Patricia Minaldi sentenced Carolyn Joyce Metcalf, 62, to 30 months in prison, followed by three years supervised release; Terri Lynn Fields, 41, to 27 months in prison, followed by three years supervised release; and Jean Morgan Vincent, 59, to three years probation, for conspiracy to transport illegal aliens.
Metcalf, Fields and Vincent were indicted last year, along with three others, for conspiracy to transport illegal aliens, and pleaded guilty in May 2009. Metcalf, Fields and Vincent admitted they conspired with their co-defendants to transport illegal aliens from the Texas and Mexico border area to other locations within Texas, that they knew the aliens came into the United States illegally, and the transportation of these illegal aliens was with the intent to further their unlawful presence in the United States. Metcalf, Fields and Vincent were involved in a conspiracy with their co-defendants that resulted in the organization transporting hundreds of illegal aliens on a regular basis since 2005.
Two co-defendants have previously pled guilty. Joan Comeaux, 56, pleaded guilty in October 2008, and is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 10, 2009. Comeaux, the ring leader of this organization, admitted that she instructed her co-defendants in this case on the procedure to transport illegal aliens and along with her sister, Carolyn Metcalf, transported illegal aliens.
Timothy Gene Jones, 40, pleaded guilty in May 2009, and was sentenced on Sept. 3, 2009, to one year imprisonment, followed by three years supervised release. Jones admitted that he was recruited as a driver and made trips to Texas to pick up and transport the illegal aliens. The recruiting process took place in the Western District of Louisiana.
"This case is a perfect example of the outstanding cooperation between ICE and our sister law enforcement agencies. Because of positive interagency cooperation, human trafficking and smuggling criminal organizations are discovering how difficult it is for them to hide their illegal activities from authorities," said Michael A. Holt, special agent in charge of ICE's Office of Investigations in New Orleans. "We are dedicated to identifying and dismantling these types of illicit operations wherever and whenever we find them."
"Any person who assists an alien to illegally enter the United States is in violation of the law and should be punished," said U. S. Attorney Donald Washington. "We will continue to aggressively pursue those who assist aliens to illegally enter and remain in the United States."
This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the FBI, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Border Patrol, Louisiana State Police, Sulphur Police Department and Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney James T. McManus.