CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – The third and final family member convicted in a large-scale alien smuggling operation has been ordered to federal prison, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.
Mexican citizen Ricardo Salazar-Mendoza, 39, pleaded guilty Nov. 12, 2019.
Today U.S. District Judge David S. Morales sentenced to him to 84 months in federal prison. Not a U.S. citizen, he is expected to face removal proceedings following the sentence. At the hearing, the court noted the number of aliens involved in this conspiracy and that Salazar-Mendoza brandished a firearm and involuntarily detained an alien.
Between March 2019 and August 2019, Salazar-Mendoza and his two brothers – Juan Carlos Salazar Mendoza, 38, and Alejandro Salazar-Mendoza, 43 – operated an alien smuggling organization.
Juan Carlos received aliens who had crossed the border illegally, housed them and hired drivers to get them past the checkpoint. The aliens were hidden in dangerous places such as in motorhomes or secret compartments under vehicles.
Ricardo operated at least one stash house for the organization in which aliens were housed while the brothers awaited smuggling fees and made smuggling arrangements to get the aliens through the checkpoint. During the conspiracy, Ricardo brandished a firearm and involuntarily detained at least one alien.
In total, law enforcement discovered at least 64 aliens from various countries at the Sarita Border Patrol Checkpoint. At least one was an unaccompanied minor.
Alejandro and Juan Carlos were previously sentenced to 80 and 108 months, respectively.
They all have been and remain in custody.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation in conjunction with Customs and Border Protection. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel Dunn prosecuted the case.