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September 9, 2021Brownsville, TX, United StatesHuman Smuggling/Trafficking

South Texas man sentenced for harboring noncitizens in unsanitary, crowded conditions

BROWNSVILLE, Texas – A South Texas man was sentenced to prison Thursday for harboring noncitizens within the United States.

The investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in coordination with U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) Rio Grande Valley Sector and the Cameron County Precinct 2 Constables Office.

Santos DeLeon-Cardenas, 35, from Brownsville was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison. His sentence is to be immediately followed by three years supervised release. De Leon-Cardenas pleaded guilty April 29. During sentencing, the judge noted that DeLeon-Cardenas harbored 57 noncitizens in crowded and unsanitary conditions.

According to court documents, on March 22, HSI and Border Patrol arrived at a hotel room in Brownsville believed to be used to harbor noncitizens. Agents conducted surveillance and eventually apprehended De Leon-Cardenas as well as 57 noncitizens, including two unaccompanied minors. De Leon-Cardenas hid them in a single one-bedroom hotel room with little ventilation.

De Leon-Cardenas 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 Edgardo J. Rodriguez, of the Southern District of Texas, prosecuted the case.

HSI is a directorate of ICE and the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel and finance move.

HSI’s workforce of over 10,400 employees consists of more than 7,100 special agents assigned to 220 cities throughout the United States, and 80 overseas locations in 53 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.

Updated: 09/14/2021