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Human Smuggling/Trafficking

Guatemalan convicted in New York on charges of alien smuggling, transporting a minor for sex

NEW YORK - A federal jury convicted a Guatemalan national Thursday on charges related to alien smuggling and transporting a minor for sex, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Miguel Vargas-Cordon, 33, of Lakewood, N.J., came to the attention of ICE HSI in January 2010 after agents learned that a Guatemalan minor had left her Virginia foster home. An anonymous tip revealed that she was involved in an inappropriate sexual relationship with Vargas-Cordon, who was identified as her uncle.

Days later, ICE HSI agents located and arrested Vargas-Cordon in Brooklyn, N.Y. He was charged criminally in Eastern District of New York with alien smuggling and harboring as well as transporting a minor with intent to engage in sexual activity.

During the course of the ICE HSI investigation, agents learned that that Vargas-Cordon started a sexual relationship with the girl while they were both living in Guatemala. After he came to the United States, he paid a coyote $6,000 to have the girl smuggled into the United States.

After arriving in the United States, the girl was living in a foster home. Vargas-Cordon assisted her in absconding from the foster home and brought her across state lines to resume the sexual relationship.

"Vargas-Cordon's actions against a member of his own family extend beyond inappropriate behavior - they are repulsive and illegal," said James T. Hayes Jr., special agent in charge of the ICE HSI in New York. "There is no place for such conduct in civilized society."

Vargas-Cordon is scheduled to be sentenced on June 24. He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison.