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Human Smuggling/Trafficking

Last of 5 sentenced to more than 8 years in prison for harboring 43 illegal aliens in Houston

HOUSTON – The fifth and final defendant in a human smuggling and harboring case was sentenced Thursday to more than eight years in prison, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas.

This investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), with assistance from the Houston Police Department (HPD).

Carlos Alejandrez, 30, of Houston, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Sim Lake to 97 months in federal prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release. He pleaded guilty Feb. 5 to conspiracy to harbor and induce illegal aliens to reside in the United States.

The following four illegal aliens residing in Houston also pleaded guilty and had previously been sentenced for their roles in the conspiracy to harbor undocumented aliens for financial gain:

  • Jabier Alejandre, 22, sentenced to 51 months;
  • Ismael Melgoza-Arredondo, 39, sentenced to 97 months;
  • Miguel Granados-Lupian, 33, sentenced to 37 months; and
  • William Dubon-Milla, 22, sentenced to 37 months.

"Those who support alien smuggling and harboring place personal profit ahead of public safety and border security," said Brian M. Moskowitz, special agent in charge of HSI Houston. "This latest prison sentence should remind alien smugglers that their illegal actions come with a heavy price."

This investigation began Dec. 17 after HSI special agents responded to a call for assistance from HPD regarding a possible alien stash house on the 7300 block of Northleaf in Houston.

Earlier that day, HPD had responded to the residence, began surveillance and subsequently observed a black GMC pickup truck departing the residence. Officers initiated a traffic stop and discovered Alejandrez driving with Granados-Lupian as a passenger in the car, along with an illegal alien female from Honduras who had entered the U.S. illegally. The woman had paid $1,700 to the human smuggling organization and was being delivered to relatives in Houston who agreed to pay an additional $1,700 upon her arrival.

Shortly thereafter, a Toyota pickup was seen leaving the same house and was also stopped by law enforcement. Melgoza-Arredondo was driving with an illegal alien woman passenger from El Salvador, who had arrived in the U.S. about a month earlier. She had already paid $8,000 to the smuggling organization to be brought to New Jersey from El Salvador and still owed another $800.

HPD officers and HSI agents entered the Northleaf residence and discovered Alejandre, the brother of Alejandrez, and Dubon-Milla, as well as 43 recently smuggled illegal aliens. All the aliens were interviewed and admitted to being smuggled illegally into the country and were being temporarily housed at this residence until their delivery. The vast majority of the men were wearing nothing but their underwear, which court records indicate is a common practice used by alien smugglers to discourage men from attempting escape. Among those in the residence were an unaccompanied 5-year-old boy and 12 other juveniles.

During the course of the search, agents seized various documents and items, including ledgers commonly referred to as "polio lists" which are used to keep track of the smuggled aliens. They also discovered a .22-caliber handgun and a 12-gauge shotgun, two baseball bats and numerous cell phones.

Previously released on bond, Alejandrez was taken into custody following the June 27 sentencing where he will remain pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Suzanne Elmilady, Southern District of Texas, prosecuted this case.