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Human Smuggling/Trafficking
02/05/2009

8 more arrested in connection with San Marcos-based alien smuggling ring

Federal grand jury returned a superseding indictment adding money laundering conspiracy

AUSTIN, Texas - Eight people were arrested Thursday morning for their suspected role in an alien smuggling operation uncovered in San Marcos, Texas, in July. U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton, Western District of Texas, announced the arrests; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is conducting the ongoing investigation.

A federal grand jury in Austin on Tuesday returned a superseding indictment against those arrested today, and four other individuals additionally charging them with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Those arrested, all Texas residents, include:

  • Juanita Leija-Trevino, 54, of Staples;
  • Sandra Leija, 34, of Austin;
  • Concepcion Loredo-Leija, 25, of Austin;
  • Wendy Nadine Adame, 26, of San Marcos;
  • Leticia Ann Miranda, 37, of San Marcos;
  • Randy Rene Contreras, 31, of Maxwell;
  • Leslie Denise Vargas, 32, of San Marcos; and
  • Mary Salinas, 62, of San Marcos.

Arrest warrants have been issued for: Fulgencio Loredo-Rubio, 41, his brother, Luis Loredo-Rubio, 38, both Mexican citizens residing in San Marcos, Marisavette Esteves-Leija, 28, of Sugarland, Texas, and Miriam Salgado-Ortega, 24, of Houston.

The superseding indictment encompasses the original indictment returned in August. The original indictment charged the following individuals with one count each of conspiracy to smuggle, transport and harbor illegal aliens; hostage taking; forced labor; and conspiracy to use or possess a firearm during a crime of violence: Rosalinda Trevino-Alvarez, 33, of Staples, Texas; Luz Maria Garcia-Garza, 26, of Rio Grande City, Texas; Julio Cesar Salgado-Ortega, 26, from Mexico; Alejandro Guzman-Ortega, 28, from Mexico; Argeo Salgado-Ortega, 31, from Mexico; and Saul Romero-Salgado, 44, from Mexico. The original indictment also charged Rosalinda Trevino, Luz Garcia, Julio Salgado and Alejandro Guzman with a substantive count of alien harboring. In addition, Rosalinda Trevino, Argeo Salgado and Saul Romero were charged with at least one substantive count of possessing a firearm during a crime of violence.

According to the superseding indictment, Rosalinda Trevino and Julio Salgado face a money laundering conspiracy charge in addition to the charges contained in the original indictment.

On July 16, federal and local authorities executed a search warrant at a mobile home in San Marcos leased by Rosalinda Trevino-Alvarez. They discovered about 25 illegal aliens from Honduras, El Salvador, Mexico and Nicaragua who were being forcibly detained pending payment of smuggling fees by friends and family. According to the superseding indictment, the defendants conspired from January 2003 to July 2008 to cause or conduct wire transfers totaling about $1 million in derived proceeds from the illegal alien smuggling operation.

Rosalinda Trevino-Alvarez, Luz Maria Garcia-Garza, Julio Cesar Salgado-Ortega, Alejandro Guzman-Ortega, Argeo Salgado-Ortega and Saul Romero-Salgado all remain in federal custody. They each face up to life in federal prison if convicted of all charges. The other defendants each face up to 20 years in federal prison if convicted of the money laundering conspiracy charge.

The following agencies are assisting ICE in the ongoing investigation: the FBI, U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; U.S. Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigation; and San Marcos and Austin police departments.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Gerald C. Carruth and Michelle Fernald, Western District of Texas, are prosecuting the case.

It is important to note that an indictment is merely an accusation and not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.