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Human Smuggling/Trafficking

Last of 3 sentenced to 10 years for alien smuggling involving a death

CORPUS CHISTI, Texas - The third of three convicted for his part in an alien smuggling organization which resulted in the dehydration death of a Mexican national in Brooks County in 2009 was sentenced on Wednesday to 10 years in federal prison, announced U.S. Attorney José Angel Moreno. The investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the U.S. Border Patrol (BP).

Jose Francisco Gelover-Jerez, 32, a Mexican national illegally residing in Houston, who was convicted in October 2010 for conspiring to transport illegal aliens and illegally re-entering the United States after being deported, will be serving a total of 120 months in federal prison without parole. U.S. District Judge John Rainey handed down the sentences on Jan. 19. The court ordered Gelover-Jerez to serve the sentences concurrently and further ordered him to pay more than $15,000 restitution to Halo Flight and Christus Spohn Kleberg Hospital for emergency medical care.

The charges stem from an Aug. 24, 2009 traffic stop and "bail out" in Brooks County, Texas. The continued investigation by ICE HSI and BP led to the identity of Gelover-Jerez, the driver of the Ford Expedition who had absconded the day of the stop.

On that day a Ford Expedition picked up a group of illegal aliens along Highway 281. When BP agents attempted to stop the vehicle, the Expedition left the roadway and drove through a fence before stopping in a field. Several individuals jumped out of the vehicle and into the brush. Afterwards, BP agents discovered a severely dehydrated male Mexican national in the back of the Expedition. Although transported by Halo Flight to a nearby medical treatment center, the Mexican national did not survive.

BP agents apprehended several illegal aliens in the brush including Anselmo Pena-Telio, 20, a Mexican national illegally residing in Houston. Pena-Telio was identified as one of the individuals who had arrived in the Expedition to pick up the aliens. Law enforcement officers were also able to identify a scout vehicle, normally used to divert law enforcement during illegal smuggling operations, traveling with the Expedition. Job Ortuno-Garcia, 27, of Houston, was identified as the driver of the scout vehicle, and was arrested.

Gelover-Jerez's sentence includes increases to the recommended Sentencing Guideline range based upon a prior smuggling conviction. Ortuno-Garcia and Pena-Telio each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transport illegal aliens in November 2009. They were sentenced in January to 45 months and 65 months imprisonment, respectively, by U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Lance Watt, Southern District of Texas, prosecuted this case.