Three Get 24 Years in Prison for
Smuggling, Holding Aliens
HOUSTON, Texas — Three of six Hondurans convicted of hostage
taking and alien smuggling were each sentenced February 4 to more
than 24 years in prison following an investigation by ICE.
Ibarra-Zelaya, 26, Jose Efrain Linares-Tabora, 27, and Marvin
Arturo Peralta-Ramirez, 23, were the first three sentenced after
six men were convicted in October in federal court on hostage
taking and alien smuggling. The three others – Edy Guardado-Mezen,
Henry Gutierrez-Andrade, and Elbin Geovanny-Mezen – are scheduled
to be sentenced in March.
are pleased with today’s sentences,” said Joseph R.
Webber, special agent-in-charge for the ICE Houston office. “We’ve
seen a recent escalation in violence in smuggling cases, a trend
that places our communities in danger. We will use every available
tool at our disposal to combat these violent encounters.”
During a six-day
trial last year, the government disclosed that a 911 call made
March 12 reported that several illegal aliens were being held
at gunpoint inside an apartment. Houston police set up surveillance
and noticed a vehicle matching the description from the phone
call. Police stopped the driver and discovered that none of the
occupants had proper identification.
escorted Griselda Barnica-Magariegoz, 25, to an apartment to retrieve
her identification, officers noticed several people running to
a back bedroom and contacted ICE for assistance. When ICE special
agents arrived on scene, 15 undocumented aliens were arrested
along with six smugglers. Some aliens had been able to escape
through a bathroom window before ICE agents arrived. ICE agents
also recovered several weapons from the toilet tank inside the
to ICE special agents, many of the undocumented aliens identified
the defendants as the perpetrators who burst into an apartment
with pistols and forced all the aliens to get into waiting vehicles.
These smugglers had stolen a smuggling load from rival smugglers.
The smuggled aliens were then transported to another apartment
located on Greens Parkway.
also identified Edy Guardado-Mezen as the smuggler who had placed
a gun to the head of a rival female smuggler and robbed her of
$5,000. After the smuggled aliens arrived in Houston, the six
defendants took the group of 15 undocumented aliens to the Greens
Parkway apartment in several vehicles.
defendants, Edy Guadardo-Mezen, Henry Gutierrez-Andrade, and Albin
Geovanny-Mezen will be sentenced in March. Each faces up to life
in prison without parole.
was convicted of harboring and transporting illegal aliens and
is also scheduled to be sentenced in March, and could face up
to 10 years in prison.
Plead Guilty in Massive Asylum Fraud
WASHINGTON, D.C. (ICE) — An 11th person pleaded guilty February
11 in federal court to a massive immigration benefits scam by
organizations that, among other things, coached aliens on how
to, among other things, solicit sympathy from asylum officers.
seeing more and more of these types of cases every day,"
said Marcy Forman, Direrctor of ICE’s Office of Investigation.
"When someone attempts to obtain benefits by deception, it
degrades the entire immigration system because fraudulent documents
present risks–the risk that criminals will use those documents
in criminal schemes and the risk to our national security."
Va., resident Johnson Aliffin, 33, pleaded guilty to conspiracy
and immigration fraud and agreed to forfeit $10,000. Aliffin’s
plea was the result of "Operation Jakarta," a two-year,
ICE-led investigation into the illegal practices of four Indonesian
immigration brokers and consultants operating in Northern Virginia
revealed that the defendants aided thousands of Indonesian aliens
living throughout the United States to apply by fraud for a wide
variety of government benefits through alien labor certification,
Virginia driver’s licenses and identification cards, United States
passports and Social Security cards.
affidavit alleges that the principal frauds pursued by the defendants
were asylum fraud, labor certification fraud and identification
document fraud. With regard to asylum, the government’s investigation
revealed that several of the defendants were routinely preparing
fraudulent asylum applications for Indonesian clients in return
for a fee of $2,000 or more.
typically contained false claims that the applicant had been raped,
sexually assaulted, beaten or robbed by Muslims in Indonesia on
account of the applicant’s Chinese ethnicity or adherence to Christianity.
Many of these claims were stock accounts repeated with little
variation from application to application. The defendants often
supported these claims with counterfeit Indonesian documents,
such as birth certificates, baptismal certificates and police
also revealed that the defendants coached their clients to exploit
the perceived sympathies of the asylum officers and immigration
judges assigned to consider the applications. For example, the
defendants counseled married aliens to feature the wife as the
lead applicant because the defendants believed asylum officers
and immigration judges were more sympathetic to women and less
likely to question them aggressively. Applicants were told to
cry, plead and avoid positive references to Indonesia.