JACKSON, Miss. — A Mexican fugitive who was extradited back to Mississippi to face human smuggling charges was sentenced to more than three years in prison Wednesday, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Pedro Estrada-Onofre, 50, was initially arrested in January 2008 after the vehicle he was driving was stopped by U.S. Border Patrol agents in Hinds County, Miss. In September 2008, Estrada-Onofre failed to appear at a scheduled hearing on his case in Mississippi. A bench warrant was then issued for his arrest. In February 2011, the U.S. Marshals Service reported that Estrada-Onofre had been located in Mexico. The U.S. Department of Justice requested a provisional arrest warrant through the Department of State with Mexican law enforcement. Estrada-Onofre was arrested January 23 by Mexican law enforcement in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico. He was extradited from Mexico City to the Southern District of Mississippi June 15 and will serve 37 months in the federal penitentiary.
"This sentence is a testament to cooperation amongst law enforcement agencies on both sides of the border," said Raymond R. Parmer Jr., special agent in charge of HSI New Orleans. "I credit the persistence of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Mississippi for ensuring that Mr. Estrada-Onofre did not escape justice for his crimes."
Operation UNIFORCE was a Border Patrol operation conducted over a two-week period in January 2008. The Border Patrol brought in a mobile processing truck and about 50 patrol agents from the Southwest border in order to apprehend and interview recently entered illegal aliens. The operation resulted in the arrest of 406 illegal aliens.
In conjunction with the operation, HSI special agents interviewed several drivers and co-drivers and reviewed evidence discovered in the vehicles. As a result, HSI special agents referred eight subjects for criminal prosecution for transportation of illegal aliens. Six of those subjects, including Estrada-Onofre, were convicted in 2008. One case involving two suspects is still being adjudicated.