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Human Smuggling/Trafficking

Mother, adult son sentenced for harboring illegal alien

HOUSTON - A mother and son have both been sentenced on Thursday to more than two years each in prison for harboring an underage illegal alien, and ordered to forfeit their residence. The sentences were announced by U.S. Attorney Tim Johnson and Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, Thomas E. Perez, today. The investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) with the assistance of the FBI and the San Jacinto Police Department.

Gregoria Vasquez-Salgado, 59, a Mexican citizen, and her son, David Salazar, 28, a U.S. citizen, were each sentenced by U.S. District Judge Sim Lake to serve 27 months in federal prison for harboring a female illegal alien in their Houston residence. Those prison terms are to be followed by a three-year-term of supervised release. Salazar was also fined $4,000. Judge Lake also entered a final order of forfeiture to the United States of Vasquez' house located at 1320 Jennifer Lane in Houston.

On March 7, 2008, Jacinto City police officers were dispatched to the Jennifer Lane residence and made contact with a female Mexican national and Vasquez-Salgado, who claimed the female was her son's girlfriend. Vasquez-Salgado said she permitted the female and her son to live with her at her residence; and that she knew the female was not legal - she had been smuggled into the United States from Mexico.

During an interview at the Jacinto City police station, the female told officers she had lived at the Jennifer Lane residence with both Vasquez and Salazar for about 2½ months. Later, Salazar arrived and was also interviewed by Jacinto City Police officers. Salazar admitted he knew the female did not have "any papers," meaning he knew she was illegally in the United States.

On May 7, Vasquez-Salgado and Salazar were indicted by a federal grand jury for harboring an illegal alien. At that time, Vasquez-Salgado was already in federal custody charged and convicted for entering the United States illegally. On May 8, Vasquez-Salgado was sentenced to 12 months in prison for that conviction. Investigating agents arrested her son at the courthouse after he arrived to attend his mother's court hearing on the harboring charges.

Both Vasquez-Salgado and Salazar pleaded guilty in July to the harboring charge. Vasquez has been in custody serving her sentence on the illegal entry conviction and will remain in custody to serve the sentence on the present charge. She is subject to deportation after she completes her prison term. Salazar is on bond, and has been permitted to remain on bond pending the issuance of an order to surrender to a Bureau of Prisons facility to be designated in the near future. 

The charges are the result of an investigation conducted by ICE and the FBI, with the assistance of the Jacinto City Police Department, all are members of the Houston Trafficking Rescue Alliance (HTRA). The HTRA was founded in August 2004 to bring together the expertise of federal, state and local law enforcement to target those engaged in human trafficking and through non-governmental service providers to provide support and services for their victims.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ruben Perez, Joseph Magliolo and Daniel Menes and Civil Rights Division Attorney Kayla Bakshi prosecuted this case.