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Human Smuggling/Trafficking
04/21/2017

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3 Houston-area men charged with human smuggling

HOUSTON — Federal charges were filed Friday against three Mexican nationals who were allegedly holding five illegal aliens at a residence in Splendora, Texas.

These charges were announced by Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez, Southern District of Texas.  This investigation is being conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), along with the Splendora Police Department and Montgomery County (Texas) Sheriff’s Office.

A federal criminal complaint was filed April 21 against Luis Cesar Avalos-Hernandez, 32, Alvaro Cruz-Suarez, 27, and Giovanni Arrelola-Villalobos, 21, all from Mexico. They are expected to make their initial appearances before U.S. Magistrate Judge Frances Stacy on Tuesday, April 25. All are charged with conspiracy to transport and harbor illegal aliens within the United States.

On April 19, special agents responded to the 27000 block of FM 2090 in Splendora and discovered eight individuals at the residence. Three claimed to reside there, while five others were found inside a back bedroom without access to their shoes, according to the charges.

Two of the aliens claimed to have been walking through the brush in Texas near the Mexican border for several days before being picked up in a white pickup truck, according the complaint. Cruz-Suarez allegedly drove that vehicle with Avalos-Hernandez as passenger. The charges further indicate that Cruz-Suarez, Avalos-Hernandez and Arrelola-Villalobos all guarded the aliens at the Splendora residence. Avalos-Hernandez allegedly took their shoes, while Arrelola-Villalobos confiscated a cellphone and threatened at least one alien with a rifle, according to the charges.

The criminal complaint alleges all eight were citizens and nationals of Mexico, Honduras and El Salvador, all of whom were illegally present in the United States. They were administratively arrested and transported to the Houston Immigration Service Processing Center for additional checks and further investigation.

At the time of the arrests, authorities seized three firearms, a stolen rifle, miscellaneous documents, and a ledger of names, dollar amounts and locations.  A white pickup truck was also found at the residence which authorities determined was reported stolen in October 2016.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Doug Davis, Southern District of Texas, is prosecuting this case.

A criminal complaint is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.

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Last Reviewed/Updated: 04/21/2017