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March 24, 2021McAllen, TX, United StatesHuman Smuggling/Trafficking

HSI Laredo probe results in more than 5-year sentence of convicted felon for harboring noncitizens, possessing firearm

MCALLEN, Texas – A South Texas man was sentenced Thursday to more than five years in federal prison following his conviction for conspiring to harbor noncitizens and possessing a firearm as a convicted felon.

Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) investigated the case in coordination with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Edinburg Police Department.

Noe Garza, 46, from Edinburg, Texas, was sentenced March 24 in U.S. district court to 63 months in federal prison to be followed by three years of supervised release. Garza pleaded guilty Nov. 2, 2020.

At the hearing, the court heard additional information related to his criminal record to include prior convictions for aggravated assault and aggravated robbery. The judge noted Garza had been breaking the law since he was 17. She added that she was particularly troubled Garza committed these crimes while having a pending human smuggling case from 2016 for which he failed to appear for sentencing.

“HSI works closely with its law enforcement partners in pursuit of identifying, arresting and bringing to justice individuals culpable of human smuggling,” said Timothy Tubbs, deputy special agent in charge of HSI Laredo. “We will continue to utilize our broad authorities to target those believed to engage in such crimes and who place personal profit ahead of public safety.”

According to court documents, on Feb. 28, 2020, law enforcement conducted a traffic stop on Garza, but he fled the scene. Authorities soon apprehended him, at which time he admitted to being the caretaker of a stash house in Edinburg and helping coordinate transportation of illegal aliens farther north. A search of the residence revealed five noncitizens and two firearms. Law enforcement also found an additional firearm in the area of the traffic stop. Garza took ownership of all three firearms.

As a previously convicted felon, federal law prohibits Garza from possessing firearms or ammunition.

Garza will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility at a later date.

Assistant U.S. Attorney M. Alexis Garcia, with the Southern District of Texas, prosecuted this case.

HSI is a directorate of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and 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 over 10,400 employees consists of more than 7,100 special agents assigned to 220 cities throughout the United States, and 80 overseas locations in 53 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.

Updated: 04/01/2021