Federal Prosecutors in Big Bend help battle human smuggling, drug trafficking

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ALPINE, Texas (Nexstar)- Federal prosecutors secured indictments against 89 defendants during the month of July in cases involving human smuggling, illegal reentry into the U.S., and drug trafficking, according to a release.

“Our Assistant U.S. Attorneys in Alpine work exceptionally hard to help protect our West Texas border communities from crime occurring in this remote transnational corridor,” said U.S. Attorney Ashley C. Hoff. “The incredible caseload demonstrates our commitment to vigorously enforcing the law alongside our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners.”

Of the 89 defendants charged, two dozen were charged with human smuggling. Sixty-seven were charged with illegally reentering the U.S. after having previously been deported. 

According to the release, some of the defendants have prior convictions in the U.S. for offenses, including rape, lewd and lascivious acts with children, transporting firearms, distribution of drugs, human smuggling and domestic violence.

“The serious charges detailed here reflect the significant dangers human and narcotic smugglers place on vulnerable people and communities,” said Big Bend Sector Chief Patrol Agent Sean L. McGoffin. “We have to provide robust consequences for criminals while removing their profits.”

Other indictments involved violations of federal smuggling and drug importation laws.

The following are cases heard this month:

  • U.S. v. Javier Jaquez – During a vehicle inspection at the Presidio, Texas Port of Entry on June 11, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents discovered 15.8 kilograms of cocaine in wrapped bundles. The 14 bundles were hidden in an aftermarket compartment spanning 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 importation of cocaine. If convicted, he faces up to a minimum of 10 years to life in prison on each count. 
  • U.S. v. Ernesto Alvarez-Zubia – On June 14, U.S. Border Patrol agents from the Van Horn Border Patrol Station stopped a pickup towing a horse trailer driven by Alvarez-Zubia. Agents discovered 41 undocumented non-citizens (UNCs), including Alvarez-Zubia, in the trailer. All the UNCs are Mexican citizens. Alvarez-Zubia is charged with one count of conspiracy to transport illegal aliens and one count of transportation of illegal aliens. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison. Alvarez-Zubia remains in federal custody since his arrest on June 14.  
  • U.S. v. Marco Antonio Mendoza-Bejarano and Victor Adrian Lujan-Garcia – On June 17, U.S. Border Patrol agents from the Van Horn Border Patrol Station stopped Mendoza-Bejarano driving a truck towing a horse trailer. Lujan-Garcia was in the passenger seat. Agents saw 39 other individuals in the truck and trailer. All 41 individuals are UNCs from the various countries, including Mexico, Peru, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Ecuador. Both Mendoza-Bejarano and Lujan-Garcia were charged with one count of conspiracy to transport illegal aliens and one count of aiding and abetting the transportation of illegal aliens. If convicted, they face up to 10 years in prison on each of the transportation counts and five years in prison on the aiding and abetting count. Mendoza-Bejarano and Lujan-Garcia remain in federal custody since their arrests on June 17.
  • U.S. v. Pedro Ramirez-Urbina – On June 27, U.S. Border Patrol agents from the Van Horn Border Patrol Station responded to a call from a concerned citizen about a deceased male found on the side of the road. Agents located the decedent along with another male waiting beside the body. Both UNCs came from Mexico. Approximately an hour later, another concerned citizen alerted U.S. Border Patrol agents to seven males walking north on Chispa Road near Needle Peak.  They were arrested and transported to Van Horn Border Patrol Station for processing where agents determined all UNCs, including the decedent, were all part of a group being smuggled into the U.S. from Mexico. Pedro Ramirez-Urbina was identified as the foot guide in charge of the group and is charged with one count of conspiracy to transport illegal aliens and one count of transportation of illegal aliens. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years of in prison on each count. Ramirez-Urbina remains in federal custody since his arrest on June 27.
  • U.S. v. Stephen Ray Pinson and Pablo Emilio Vinas-Gonzales – On June 21, a Brewster County Sheriff’s Deputy stopped a recreational vehicle (RV) for traffic violations. The RV was driven by Pinson with Vinas-Gonzalez as passenger. During the stop, the deputy identified 48 UNCs 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 transportation of illegal aliens. If convicted, they face up to 10 years in prison on each count. Pinson and Vinas-Gonzales remain in federal custody since their arrests on June 21.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office works closely with Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Border Patrol, and local law enforcement authorities to ensure public safety by prosecuting individuals who violate federal law.

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