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Human Smuggling/Trafficking

2 alien smugglers sentenced to federal prison for raping, threatening illegal aliens

MCALLEN, Texas – Two alien smugglers received significant federal prison sentences Monday for smuggling aliens into the United States, and raping and threatening individuals in their smuggling load.

These sentences were announced by U.S. Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas.

This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), with the assistance of U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Border Patrol, Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office, and the Alamo (Texas) Police Department.

U.S. District Judge Randy Crane sentenced Miguel Aceves, 40, from El Salvador, and Valentine Pena-Roman, 41, from Mexico, to 96 and 70 months confinement, respectively. Upon imposing the sentence, the court noted that Aceves was calculating in separating some women from the other smuggled aliens. Judge Crane enhanced Aceves' sentence based on his repeated sexual assaults.

According to court documents, Aceves and Pena harbored illegal aliens in Alamo, Texas, from Oct. 1 to Oct. 4, 2012. While at the stash house, Aceves and Pena threatened multiple illegal aliens with injury or death if they did not pay more money. During this time, Aceves sexually assaulted one smuggled alien. Further investigation revealed that he had also sexually assaulted another illegal alien in San Juan, Texas, in September 2012.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kristen Rees and Kimberly Ann Leo, Southern District of Texas, prosecuted this case.