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Enforcement and Removal
12/20/2012

ICE deports leader of multinational human smuggling network

ATLANTA – A Guatemalan national, with dual citizenship in Mexico, was removed from the United States Wednesday by officers with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Orlando Escobar-Leon, aka Eduardo Morales Esquivel, 42, was a leader in a multinational alien smuggling network that was responsible for smuggling East African and Bangladeshi nationals from Colombia into Central America, and eventually, the United States. Due to the high-profile nature of his crimes, officers with ICE's Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) turned him over to Guatemalan law enforcement authorities upon his arrival in Guatemala City, Guatemala.

Between March 2008 and August 2009, Escobar-Leon and 12 co-conspirators facilitated the smuggling of more than 100 unauthorized illegal aliens into the United States. In return for his services, Escobar-Leon received between $350 and $1,500 per individual.

"This individual completely disregarded the value of human lives," said acting ERO Atlanta Field Office Director David Rivera. "He manipulated the immigration systems of multiple countries, solely to benefit his bottom line."

In January 2010, Escobar-Leon was charged in the United States via criminal complaint with conspiracy to encourage and induce unauthorized aliens to come, enter and reside in the United States. In March 2010, Mexican law enforcement authorities arrested him in coordination with special agents from ICE's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Mexico City. He was subsequently extradited to the United States where he was arrested and charged for harboring aliens and conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government. He pleaded guilty to those charges and was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison in March. Based on the fact that Escobar-Leon was only extradited to the United States to face charges, he did not have legal immigration status to remain in the United States. Upon his release from prison, he was transferred to ICE custody and processed as an expedited removal. He was detained at the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Ga., before ERO officers removed him back to Guatemala City.