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Human Smuggling/Trafficking
09/26/2012

3 south Texans sentenced for alien smuggling

LAREDO, Texas — Three Laredo residents were sentenced Wednesday for their roles in an alien transporting conspiracy, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas. The investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in coordination with U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Border Patrol and the Laredo Police Department (LPD).

Manuel Chavez-Casarez, 40, Hector Fernandez-Garay, 24, and Imelda Rodriguez, 23, all of Laredo, appeared before U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia to receive their sentence. Judge Garcia handed down the following prison terms: Fernandez-Garay was sentenced to serve 37 months to include a supervised release for three years; Rodriguez will serve 18 months; and Chavez-Casarez will serve a 12-month prison sentence. In addition to their prison terms, Rodriguez and Chavez-Casarez will each serve two years of supervised release.

According to court documents, during the March 2012 trial of Rodriguez, HSI responded to a request for investigative assistance from Border Patrol and LPD officers regarding an alien smuggling event. LPD officers initiated two traffic stops on Highway 83 near the Riverhill subdivision in Laredo, resulting in several apprehensions.

The first vehicle, a Chevrolet Silverado driven by Chavez-Casarez, did not initially yield and was eventually stopped for a traffic violation by LPD. The LPD officer observed several individuals lying down in the bed of pickup truck and requested assistance from the Border Patrol. Agents conducted brief interviews and determined 14 passengers in the truck were illegal aliens with no legal right to enter or remain in the United States.

A Dodge Durango, driven by Fernandez-Garay, also did not yield and led officers on a pursuit which resulted in the collision of two LPD vehicles and an injury to one of the officers. The Border Patrol responded to the scene and determined Fernandez-Garay and passenger Rodriguez were both U.S. citizens. However, seven other passengers in the vehicle were found to be illegal aliens with no legal right to enter or remain in the United States.

Fernandez-Garay will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future. Chavez-Casarez and Rodriguez were permitted to remain on bond and voluntarily surrender in the near future.

Assistant U.S. Attorney's Raul Guerra and David White, Southern District of Texas, prosecuted this case.