Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) convicted a twice-removed Salvadoran national sentenced and 2 human smugglers who operated Houston-area stash houses, according to news releases.
A twice-removed Salvadoran national was sentenced Nov. 18 to 30 months in federal custody. The sentencing of Jose Ruiz-Alvarado, 52, follows a February 2019 indictment for illegal reentry, a charge initiated after his arrest by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) for immigration violations.
Ruiz-Alvarado, a citizen of El Salvador, was previously removed by ICE on two separate occasions in March 2002 and January 2008. His 2002 removal followed a felony conviction in the State of Texas for possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, for which he was sentenced to a 15-years imprisonment. His 2008 removal followed a conviction in U.S District Court-Southern District of Texas, for which a sentence of 41 months was imposed. Following this removal. Ruiz-Alvarado again unlawfully reentered the U.S. at an unknown place, on an unknown date.
On Dec. 31, 2018, Ruiz-Alvarado was arrested in East Hampton, New York, on local charges. On Jan. 3, 2019, ERO deportation officers assigned to Long Island Sub-Office’s Violent Criminal Alien Section (VCAS) obtained a federal arrest warrant in U.S. District Court-Eastern District of New York (EDNY) for violation of 8 USC 1326(b)(2), illegally reentering the U.S. after removal, following an aggravated felony conviction. On Jan. 30, 2019, deportation officers arrested Ruiz-Alvarado in East Hampton, New York. He was arraigned in EDNY, and subsequently remanded into U.S. Marshal Service custody, pending trial.
On Nov. 19, 2019, Ruiz-Alvarado, following a plea of guilty, was sentenced to 30-months in federal custody for illegal reentry after removal following an aggravated felony conviction, in EDNY. Ruiz-Alvarado will be returned to ICE custody for removal, following the completion of his imposed sentence.
HOUSTON — Two men were convicted Thursday for operating a large-scale human smuggling scheme by operating stash houses in Houston using boarded-up trailers. A third man involved in the operation was convicted earlier this month.
This investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Houston, Texas, in conjunction with HSI Guatemala and the government of Guatemala.
Albino Vargas-Hernandez, a 48-year-old illegal alien from Mexico, and Rene Camacho, a 47-year-old U.S. citizen residing in Houston, both pleaded guilty Dec. 12 to conspiracy to transport and harbor illegal aliens. A third man who is also illegally present in the U.S., 21-year-old Mexican national Hiram Lamarca-Gonzalez, entered his guilty plea Dec. 4.
This investigation revealed that from around July 9 through Aug. 22, 2018, multiple suspected aliens had arrived and departed from trailers in Houston, which were locked and had boards on the windows. On several occasions, Vargas-Hernandez left his residence, picked up illegal aliens from the stash house and delivered them to others.
Law enforcement obtained search warrants on the Vargas residence as well as the stash houses. During that time, authorities found Vargas-Hernandez and Camacho inside one of the trailers along with 12 smuggled aliens. These aliens identified Vargas-Hernandez and Camacho as leaders of this smuggling organization. Both men were in charge of documenting alien information in ledgers and collecting payments for the those smuggled into the United States. Law enforcement also recovered multiple firearms, “pollo” lists (alien smuggling ledgers keeping track of alien and payment information), money service wire receipts and about $224,000 in cash.
Authorities also arrested Lamarca-Gonzalez for guarding the smuggled aliens at the stash house.
Sentencing for all three men is set for Feb. 13. At that time, they each face up to 10 years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine.
Camacho was permitted to remain on bond; Vargas-Hernandez and Lamarca-Gonzalez remain in federal custody pending the sentencing hearing.