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Human Smuggling/Trafficking

Human smuggler sentenced to 42 months in prison

TAMPA, Fla. – A Honduran citizen, with lawful permanent resident status in the United States, was sentenced Monday to 42 months in federal prison for conspiracy to transport 100 or more illegal aliens and two counts of transporting illegal aliens. The sentence resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the U.S. Border Patrol.

According to court documents and trial testimony, Rigoberto Bautista-Villanueva, 38, of Orlando, Fla., conspired with individuals living and working out of Houston, Texas, to transport and move 100 or more illegal aliens throughout the United States from an unknown date prior to August 2010 to Feb. 8, 2011. Bautista-Villanueva rented various automobiles to transport these illegal aliens, driving more than 38,000 miles in these vehicles during that period of time. He also transported one illegal alien to Tampa on or about Jan. 30, 2011, and the U.S. Border Patrol caught him transporting three other illegal aliens toward Jacksonville, Fla., on or about Feb. 8, 2011.

"Human smugglers have no boundaries. They deliberately evade immigration laws to transport people like commodities," said Sue McCormick, special agent in charge, HSI Tampa. "HSI works tirelessly to target the criminal enterprises behind these smuggling operations."

Bautista-Villanueva was also ordered to serve a five-year term of supervised release and pay a special assessment of $300. Based upon this conviction, he is expected to lose his lawful permanent resident status in the United States and if so would be deported to Honduras after serving his sentence with the Bureau of Prisons.