ALPINE, Texas (Nexstar) – Federal prosecutors have secured indictments against 89 defendants during the month of July in cases of human trafficking, illegal return to the United States and drug trafficking, according to a statement.
“Our Assistant US Prosecutors at Alpine are working exceptionally hard to help protect our West Texas border communities from crime occurring in this remote transnational corridor,” said US Attorney Ashley C. Hoff. “The incredible workload demonstrates our commitment to vigorous law enforcement alongside our local, state and federal law enforcement partners.”
Of the 89 defendants indicted, two dozen have been charged with human trafficking. Sixty-seven have been charged with returning illegally to the United States after being previously deported.
According to the statement, some of the defendants have already been convicted in the United States for offenses including rape, lewd and lascivious acts with children, transporting firearms, distributing drugs, human trafficking. humans and domestic violence.
“The serious charges detailed here reflect the significant dangers human smugglers pose to vulnerable individuals and communities,” said Big Bend Area Chief Patrol Officer Sean L. McGoffin. “We must provide solid consequences for criminals while suppressing their profits.”
Other indictments related to violations of federal drug smuggling and importation laws.
Here are the cases heard this month:
- United States v. Javier Jaquez – During a vehicle inspection at the Presidio, Texas port of entry on June 11, U.S. customs and border officials discovered 15.8 kilograms of cocaine in packages packed. The 14 packages were hidden in a spare compartment covering the entire front of a pickup driven by Jaquez. Jaquez was charged with one count of possession with intent to distribute cocaine and one count of importing cocaine. If convicted, he faces up to a minimum of 10 years in life in prison on each count.
- United States v. Ernesto Alvarez-Zubia – On June 14, U.S. Border Patrol officers from the Van Horn Border Patrol Station stopped a pickup truck towing a horse trailer driven by Alvarez-Zubia. Agents discovered 41 undocumented non-citizens (UNCs), including Alvarez-Zubia, in the trailer. All UNCs are Mexican citizens. Alvarez-Zubia is charged with one count of conspiracy to transport illegal aliens and one count of transporting illegal aliens. If found guilty, he faces up to 10 years in prison. Alvarez-Zubia has remained in federal custody since his arrest on June 14.
- United States v. Marco Antonio Mendoza-Bejarano and Victor Adrian Lujan-Garcia – On June 17, US Border Patrol officers from the Van Horn Border Patrol Station arrested Mendoza-Bejarano while driving a truck towing a horse trailer. Lujan-Garcia was in the passenger seat. Officers saw 39 other people in the truck and trailer. The 41 people are NCUs from various countries including Mexico, Peru, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Ecuador. Mendoza-Bejarano and Lujan-Garcia were charged with one count of conspiracy to transport illegal aliens and one count of complicity in the transport of illegal aliens. If found guilty, they face up to 10 years in prison for each count of transport and five years in prison for the count of complicity. Mendoza-Bejarano and Lujan-Garcia have remained in federal detention since their arrest on June 17.
- United States v. Pedro Ramirez-Urbina – On June 27, U.S. Border Patrol officers from the Van Horn Border Patrol Station responded to a call from a concerned citizen about a deceased man found by the side of the road. Officers located the deceased with another man waiting next to the body. The two UNCs were from Mexico. About an hour later, another concerned citizen alerted US Border Patrol agents to seven men marching north on Chispa Road near Needle Peak. They were arrested and transported to the Van Horn Border Patrol Station for processing, where officers determined that all NCUs, including the deceased, were all part of a group smuggled into the United States from from Mexico. Pedro Ramirez-Urbina has been identified as the group’s responsible walking guide and is charged with one count of conspiracy to transport illegal aliens and one count of transporting illegal aliens. If found guilty, he faces up to 10 years in prison on each count. Ramirez-Urbina has remained in federal detention since his arrest on June 27.
- United States v. Stephen Ray Pinson and Pablo Emilio Vinas-Gonzales – On June 21, a Brewster County Sheriff’s Deputy stopped an recreational vehicle (RV) for traffic violation. The camper van was driven by Pinson with Vinas-Gonzalez as a passenger. During the stop, the deputy identified 48 NCUs in the RV who were citizens of Mexico, Brazil, Peru, Honduras and Ecuador. Pinson and Vinas-Gonzales are charged with one count of conspiracy to transport illegal aliens and one count of transporting illegal aliens. If found guilty, they face up to 10 years in prison on each count. Pinson and Vinas-Gonzales have remained in federal custody since their arrest on June 21.
The United States Attorney’s Office works closely with Homeland Security Investigations, the US Border Patrol, and local law enforcement authorities to ensure public safety by prosecuting individuals who violate federal law.