HOUSTON, Texas — A federal judge in the Southern District of Texas handed down prison sentences to three men involved in human smuggling and stash house operations. The trio smuggled more than 1,000 people in less than a year into Texas under extremely dangerous conditions.
“This is another case that illustrates the dangers of human smuggling and sadly, how Houston is an important hub for it,” U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas Ryan Patrick told Breitbart Texas in response to an inquiry. “Aliens were loaded into boarded-up trailers in July and August heat to be moved from point to point.”
U.S. District Court Judge Alfred H. Bennett handed down a 36-month prison sentence to 47-year-old Rene Camacho, a U.S. citizen from Houston, following his December 2019 guilty plea. His sentence also included a 24-month period of supervised release following the completion of his prison term.
Two Mexican nationals also pleaded guilty in December to the conspiracy to smuggle and transport illegal aliens.
The judge previously sentenced 49-year-old Albino Vargas-Hernandez, a Mexican national who lived in Houston, and 22-year-old Hiram Lamarca-Gonzalez, another Mexican national residing in Houston to 42 and 36 months in prison respectively for their roles in the human smuggling and stash house operations.
Prosecutors told the judge the three men carried out a complex human smuggling scheme that utilized multiple drivers to transport illegal aliens. The operators utilized money transmitters and ledgers to keep track of their illicit enterprise that brought in more than $1.4 million in proceeds.
“These three individuals operated a vast human smuggling network that preyed on the desperation of foreign nationals hoping to get into the United States,” U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge Mark Dawson said in a written statement. “In just the last year, they are responsible for smuggling more than 1,000 people into the country. With today’s sentencing, we have sent a resounding message that HSI is committed to aggressively target human smugglers and smuggling organizations who seek to undermine our nation’s immigration laws and victimize people for profit.”
Prosecutors proved that the three men engaged in human smuggling from July 9, 2018 to August 22, 2018. During that period investigators reported the smugglers utilized multiple boarded up mobile homes to warehouse their human cargo, Breitbart Texas reported.
In addition to the people and money recovered in the investigation, agents recovered multiple firearms.
Judge Bennett ordered the forfeiture of a residence valued at $130,000 and $224,774.86 in cash and cashier’s checks seized during the investigation.
ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations officials told Breitbart that Vargas-Hernandez and Lamarca-Gonzalez will be placed in removal proceedings pending the completion of their prison terms. They are currently in federal custody pending transfer to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.
The judge allowed Camacho to remain on bond pending a future surrender date to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.
During the month of June, U.S. Attorney Ryan Patrick and the Southern District of Texas team of prosecutors carried out 610 immigration prosecutions. The District of Arizona was second with 132 prosecutions on immigration-related cases.
Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior news contributor for the Breitbart Texas-Border team. He is an original member of the Breitbart Texas team. Price is a regular panelist on Fox 26 Houston’s What’s Your Point? Sunday-morning talk show. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX and Face