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April 27, 2017McAllen, TX, United StatesHuman Smuggling/Trafficking

Human smuggler from Mexico receives enhanced 70-month federal prison sentence for raping illegal aliens and brandishing a machete

MCALLEN, Texas — A man from Mexico was sentenced to nearly six years in federal prison for conspiring to harbor illegal aliens.  

This sentence was announced by Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez, Southern District of Texas. This investigation was led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigation (HSI), with the assistance from the Edinburg (Texas) Police Department.  

Julio Puente-Oliva, from Mexico, was sentenced April 27 by U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez to 70 months in federal prison for conspiring to harbor illegal aliens. The court enhanced the sentence because he raped the victim and brandished a dangerous weapon during the course of the conspiracy. At the hearing, the court heard from a victim who testified how Puente-Oliva tried to force her to consume alcohol and showed her a machete he kept underneath his mattress. She also stated that he said he would “use it if he had to.”  She told the court that Puente-Oliva raped her and then threatened to kill her if she accused him of anything.  In handing down the sentence, the court noted the sentence imposed was necessary to protect the public from further crimes of the defendant and to deter future criminal conduct.  Puente-Oliva pleaded guilty to the charges Jan. 26.  He is expected to face deportation proceedings after he completes her prison sentence.

According to court documents, between Oct. 1-3, 2016, Puente-Oliva conspired to harbor illegal aliens in his residence in Edinburg, during which time he committed the sexual assault and threats. On Oct. 3, the victim escaped from the Edinburg stash home and ran to a nearby restaurant where she asked for police. The victim advised Edinburg Police officers that she had escaped from a stash house where she was sexually assaulted by the caretaker. She had also brought a 16-year-old illegal alien with her who had been harbored in the same place.

Puente-Oliva will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future

Assistant U.S. Attorney, Alex Benavides, Southern District of Texas, prosecuted this case.