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Texas couple convicted for running human smuggling enterprise

October 1, 2016  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Texas couple convicted for running human smuggling enterprise

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A maintenance worker for the Austin Independent School District and his wife were both convicted and sentenced to prison for their parts in a human smuggling enterprise.

The couple allegedly conspired to transport over 500 immigrants into the United States illegally over a period of 10-years.

San Juana Valdez-Menchaca and her husband, Julian Perez, were issued sentences of 70 months and 33 months behind bars for their role in the human smuggling enterprise, respectively, according to spokesman Daryl Fields with the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas.

The two suspects pleaded guilty in July to one count of conspiracy to transport the illegal aliens. The couple would pick up the immigrants after they passed the border near Laredo, Texas and would take them to a stash house in the Austin area. They would eventually transport them to their final destination in other states including Florida, Kentucky, Alabama, Virginia, and North Carolina.

Relatives of the smuggled migrants transferred money into bank accounts that would be collected by the couple. They would retain a share of the proceeds and then forward the remaining funds to their associates in Mexico.

In a written statement, Special Agent in Charge Shane Folden, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), San Antonio, stated: “Homeland Security Investigations special agents often investigate complex financial schemes in order to disrupt and dismantle the operations of transnational criminal organizations,”

“These investigations deprive the criminal organizations, from enjoying the benefits of the illicit proceeds, and prevent them from furthering the ongoing criminal enterprise. We will continue to aggressively investigate fraudulent financial schemes that put in jeopardy the integrity of our financial system,” Folden added.

Along with their prison time, the government has seized their house and $106,390 in cash on the day the couple was apprehended. Another $71,000 was discovered in 10 additional bank accounts and will be implemented into a $1,173,000 judgement, taxed against the two suspects.

Both individuals were also fined $5,000 each. Valdez-Menchaca originally applied for public representation as an indigent. However, the judge decided that she had the money to pay for her own defense and required her to pay a $2,709 fee to compensate the government for the cost of her defense.

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