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Human Smuggling/Trafficking
11/14/2012

South Texas man pleads guilty to alien smuggling that resulted in death

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A south Texas man pleaded guilty Wednesday to alien smuggling and harboring that resulted in the death of a 24-year-old Mexican national in September 2011, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas. The investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Lewey Martinez, 31, of Falfurrias, pleaded guilty Nov. 14 to alien smuggling and harboring before Senior U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack. The government detailed that for five years, Martinez coordinated transporting aliens around the U.S. Border Patrol Checkpoint in Falfurrias. On the evening of Sept. 15, 2011, Martinez arranged for about 20 illegal aliens to hike around the checkpoint with the assistance of brush guides. After walking around the checkpoint, the aliens were driven to a stash house on Martinez's property.

Shortly after the group's arrival, two brush guides drove to the stash house with an additional alien who died from exposure and dehydration. Martinez and two others loaded the victim's body into a pickup truck and drove it to a public intersection. Martinez then called the emergency operator from a payphone and directed police to the body. Following his arrest, Martinez admitted his role in the smuggling operation and his involvement in disposing the body.

Martinez faces up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced Jan. 25. He will remain in federal custody pending sentencing.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey D. Preston, Southern District of Texas, prosecuted the case.