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December 22, 2011Tampa, FL, United StatesHuman Smuggling/Trafficking

Texas couple sentenced for conspiracy to transport illegal aliens

TAMPA, Fla. – A husband and wife from Katy, Texas, were each sentenced Wednesday to 30 months in federal prison for conspiring to transport illegal aliens throughout the United States from the Houston area, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Ramon Vasallo, 48, and Marlene Vasallo, 49, both Cuban nationals, were also ordered to serve three years of supervised release following their release from prison.

In addition, the court entered a forfeiture judgment against two of their vehicles, a 2003 Chevrolet K1500 Suburban Wagon and a 2009 Dodge Journey SXT, which were used in the conspiracy.

Ramon Vasallo entered a guilty plea on Sept. 9 for conspiring to transport 25 or more illegal aliens from about May 22, 2007, through about May 15, 2010. His wife, Marlene Vasallo also entered a guilty plea on the same day to the conspiracy count and to four counts of aiding and abetting the transportation of 25 illegal aliens from April 14 through May 15, 2010.

According to court documents, during the course of the conspiracy, the Vasallos transported and conspired to transport 25 or more illegal aliens throughout the United States. One such incident occurred on May 22, 2007, in Tipton County, Ind., during a traffic stop, when the Vasallos were found to be transporting ten illegal aliens.

Paperwork found in a vehicle they were using included a passenger list with the names of 17 people with destinations including Chicago, Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa, Arkansas, Tennessee, Michigan, and Indiana. Also found was paperwork indicating whether or not the passengers had paid. At the time of the stop, Ramon had $1,351.76 and Marlene had $451.87 in their possession. The Vasallos stated that each passenger would pay between $235 and $280, depending on the destination.

During April and May 2010, Ramon and Marlene Vasallo were also directly involved in providing illegal alien passengers to another member of the conspiracy, Nicanor Gonzalez-Triana. The alien passengers would be delivered to the co-conspirator by the Vasallos in the Houston area and then be transported by that co-conspirator across the southern part of the United States, into and through the Middle District of Florida.

Altogether, the Vasallos provided the co-conspirator with 25 illegal alien passengers, to be transported during four different transporting events: April 14 through 18, 2010; April 19 through 23, 2010; May 6 through 8, 2010; and May 12 through 15, 2010. All four transporting events crossed into and through Florida.

Nicanor Gonzalez-Triana pleaded guilty to his role in the conspiracy on Feb. 23 and was sentenced to time served and 60 months of supervised release.

Updated: 09/23/2014