MCALLEN, Texas — A Mexican woman and leader of a smuggling organization was sentenced Wednesday following her conviction in a conspiracy to transport illegal aliens.
This sentenced resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), with the assistance of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Border Patrol.
Brenda Yadira Gamez-Castaneda, aka Guera La Trailera, 41, of Mexico was sentenced Jan. 22 before U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez to 120 months for her role in a conspiracy to transport illegal aliens. Gamez-Castaneda is illegally present in the United States and has previously been deported. She also received 24 months for illegally reentering the U.S. Her sentences will run concurrently. Once her sentence is completed, authorities will reinstate her prior order of removal to Mexico.
The court enhanced her sentence, finding she obstructed or impeded the administration of justice. Evidence presented in court showed Gamez-Castaneda destroyed evidence, demanded others to do the same and instructed a co-defendant what to say to authorities. She also attempted to flee the U.S. after learning she was a target of the investigation.
While imposing the sentence, Judge Alvarez noted Gamez-Castaneda was the leader of a criminal enterprise that involved five or more participants, or that was otherwise extensive, and included at least two alien smuggling cells.
According to court documents, beginning approximately May 17, 2019, Roberto Flores-Brewster utilized his property in Donna, Texas, known as “the Brewster Compound” to harbor and transport undocumented aliens with co-defendant Adolfo Medina-Cervantez. Flores-Brewster then transported these individuals to Gamez-Castaneda. From there, she and another defendant, Silber Vazquez-Mireles, would transport the undocumented aliens to additional stash houses and hotel locations where other members of the criminal enterprise would harbor them. The aliens remained at these locations while Gamez-Castaneda coordinated with drivers to smuggle them beyond the South Texas U.S. Border Patrol checkpoints.
Gamez-Castaneda was found responsible for smuggling at least 25 undocumented aliens. At least one of them was a minor, while another had been involuntarily detained. Another alien was held by coercion in connection with a demand for payment. The court also noted that she used a 10-year old child to assist in the alien smuggling conspiracy at a hotel where undocumented aliens, including an unaccompanied juvenile, were being harbored.
On Oct. 9, 2019, Vazquez-Mireles, 32, of Mexico, was ordered to serve 40 months in federal prison for his role in the smuggling ring. At the time of his sentencing, Vazquez-Mireles also received an enhancement for obstruction of justice. The court found he had placed jail calls during which he informed Gamez-Castaneda, then unindicted, to destroy evidence related to the conspiracy.
Flores-Brewster, 60, and Medina-Cervantez, 29, are set for sentencing before U.S. District Judge Alvarez on March 25, 2020.
Gamez-Castaneda will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Redavid, Southern District of Texas, prosecuted this case.