LAREDO, Texas — A South Texas man pleaded guilty Wednesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Diana Song Quiroga for his role in a conspiracy to smuggle illegal aliens.
This guilty plea was announced by Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez, Southern District of Texas. This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) with the assistance of U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Border Patrol.
Jose Francisco Morales Jr., from El Cenizo, Texas, is the last of 13 to be convicted in the conspiracy in which illegal aliens were smuggled past Border Patrol checkpoints between September 2015 and June 2017.
The following three leaders of this criminal organization — all from Laredo — previously pleaded guilty to the alien smuggling charges: Jose Andres Gongoria Jr., 34, Sandra Nelly Chapa-Gongoria, 33, and Carlos Enrique Reyna-Garcia, 29.
The following nine other members of the organization acted as scouts, transporters and stash house operators, and had also previously pleaded guilty: Jose Andres Alberto Gongoria Sr., 46, Maria De Lourdes Gongoria, 36, Mario Adalberto Ramirez, 34, Juan Antonio Luna, 47, all of El Cenizo; Jose Garcia III, 36, Abraham Garza, 24, and Guillermo Valdovinos-Rios, 55, all of Laredo; Luis Rodriguez Jr., 19, of Dallas; and Joseph Graves, 25, of Savannah, Georgia.
Members of the smuggling organization dropped off illegal aliens in the brush and then guided them around the CBP Border Patrol checkpoints. The smugglers picked up the illegal aliens once they passed the checkpoints and then transported them further north.
Judge Marina Marmolejo anticipates setting up a sentencing date at a later time. At that time, each defendant faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Alfredo De La Rosa and Andrew Hunt, Southern District of Texas are prosecuting this case.