VICTORIA, Texas – A 47-year-old Mexican national who resided in McAllen and Houston has pleaded guilty on the day trial was set to begin, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.
Humberto Ramirez-Santos admitted to his involvement in a conspiracy to transport illegal aliens between October 2011 to July 2017. The alien smuggling organization facilitated the smuggling of illegal aliens from multiple countries including individuals from China, Russia, India, Brazil, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico. Ages of those smuggled into the country ranged from toddlers to the elderly but were mostly comprised of young adults.
At the hearing today, the court heard that smuggling trips were taken every week and the total number of aliens transported are incalculable.
The organization used various methods to facilitate the smuggling. Co-conspirators drove cars and trucks to locations south of Border Patrol (BP) checkpoints. There, they were guided through South Texas ranches to avoid detection. They also used Penske trucks and tractor trailers to smuggle illegal aliens through various checkpoints.
A particular tactic was to select a tractor trailer parked at a South Texas truck stop with a suitable temperature. They would then remove the seal and load the illegal aliens. Members of the organization would follow the vehicle to the next stop somewhere north of the checkpoint to later retrieve them. The drivers would be unaware of their human cargo and were potentially exposed to criminal liability. The aliens were then be transported in closed Penske trucks to Houston.
Ramirez-Santos provided aliens to be smuggled through his contacts in Mexico. He also trained the young members of the organization in how to do counter-surveillance and instructed younger family members in how to move aliens.
Senior U.S. District Judge John Rainey accepted the plea and has set sentencing for Oct. 1, 2019. At that time, Ramirez-Santos faces up to 10 years in prison and a possible $250,000 fine.
Previously released on bond, he was permitted to remain on bond pending sentencing.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, Border Patrol and Houston Police Department conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Patti Hubert Booth is prosecuting the case.