AUSTIN, Texas — Federal authorities have reported that the final two human smugglers convicted in connection with a stash house in southeast Houston where illegal immigrants were being housed have been sentenced to federal prison. The two men, Jose Aviles-Villa, 32, and Antonio Barruquet-Hildeberta, 46, were arrested in March 2014 after the stash house was discovered with 115 immigrants living in squalid conditions, held hostage and crammed into a less than 1,300 square foot home.
The smuggling ring consisted of five men, all of whom originally hailed from Michoacan, Mexico. The other three, Jonathan Solorzano-Tavila, 30, Jose Cesmas-Borja, 26, and Eugenio Sesmas-Borja, 20, were sentenced previously to 60, 54 and 51 months respectively for conspiracy to harbor and transport illegal aliens, plus additional consecutive 60-month sentences for the use of a firearm. Likewise, Aviles-Villa and Barruquet-Hildeberta were sentenced to 51 and 63 months respectively for the conspiracy charge, and both were sentenced to 60 months for the firearms charge as well. The smugglers are illegal aliens themselves, and will be deported back to Mexico after their sentences are served.
The smugglers had established networks to help people cross the border illegally, in exchange for smuggling fees that cost thousands of dollars per person, netting the group significant profits. Once the illegal aliens had been brought across the border, the smugglers would then demand additional payment from their families for their release. They held the immigrants hostage in the Houston stash house, guarded by armed guards and many of them stripped of their clothing, shoes, phones, and other personal possessions, until family members paid their ransoms.
The Houston Chronicle reported that anonymous tips about the stash house had led to the raid and arrests, and that the case was the largest discovery of a human smuggling operation in the Houston area in at least seven years. Breitbart Texas has previously covered the ongoing exploitation of illegal immigrants by human smugglers.
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