9 indicted in Joint Task Force Alpha investigation after human smuggling organization takedown
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — An indictment against nine alleged human smugglers was unsealed June 5 following an investigation by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Border Patrol assisted with the case.
A federal grand jury indicted all nine defendants on May 18. According to the indictment and other court records, Jose Luis Avalos aka “El Gordo,” 40, of El Paso, Texas, allegedly led the human smuggling operation. Avalos and his wife, Kristina Hardin, 41, also of El Paso, were arrested June 1 in El Paso, and detention hearings are set for June 7 to determine whether they will remain in custody pending trial, which has not been scheduled.
If convicted, Avalos and Hardin each face 20 years in prison.
Avalos’ brother, David Avalos-Solis, 48, of Chaparral, was arrested on May 24 and will remain in custody pending trial, which has not been scheduled. If convicted, Avalos-Solis faces 10 years in prison.
Nancy Orellana-Recinos, 37, of Rio Rancho, who is a citizen of Guatemala, was arrested in Rio Rancho on June 1 and will remain in custody pending trial, which has not been scheduled. If convicted, she faces 20 years in prison and will be subject to deportation.
Dario Rey Gamboa, 19, and his twin brother, Diego Rean Gamboa aka “Sunny,” both of Las Cruces, were arrested on May 23 and June 1, respectively. Dario Rey Gamboa was released on conditions, and Diego Rean Gamboa is pending a detention hearing to determine whether he will remain in custody pending trial, which has not been scheduled. If convicted, they each face 10 years in prison.
Cindy Marie Escobar, 42, of Lordsburg, was arrested on May 23, and is pending a detention hearing to determine whether she will remain in custody pending trial, which has not been scheduled. If convicted, she faces 10 years in prison.
Justin Walker, 31, of Las Cruces, was arrested on May 27, and will remain in custody pending trial, which has not been scheduled. If convicted, he faces 10 years in prison.
Adam Guerrero, 38, of Las Cruces, was arrested June 5.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Randy M. Castellano is prosecuting the case.
An indictment is only an allegation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Attorney General Merrick B. Garland established Joint Task Force Alpha to marshal the investigative and prosecutorial resources of the Department of Justice, in partnership with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), to enhance U.S. enforcement efforts against the most prolific and dangerous human smuggling and trafficking groups operating in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. JTFA consists of federal prosecutors from border U.S. Attorney’s Offices, from the Criminal Division and the Civil Rights Division, along with law enforcement agents and analysts from HSI and CBP. The FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration are also part of the task force, along with other interagency partners.
HSI is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move. HSI’s workforce of more than 8,700 employees consists of more than 6,000 special agents assigned to 237 cities throughout the United States, and 93 overseas locations in 56 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.