A husband and wife team from Ecuador have been sentenced to federal prison for their roles in a human smuggling operation in Texas. At least one young girl was raped in a Mexican stash house during the smuggling process.
Paul Esteban Estrella Villota, 40, of Cuenca, Ecuador, and his 42-year-old wife Magaly Alemania Malagon Sandoya were sentenced in a west Texas federal court for six years and five years respectively for their role as ringleaders of an operation that smuggled minor children and adults from Ecuador to the United States. The sentence was handed down by District Judge Kathleen Cardone.
In at least one of the smuggling operations, the woman known as “Magi” was paid $14,500 by an Ecuadorian man to smuggle his young daughter to the United States. The girl was moved from Ecuador across Mexico to Ciudad Juarez where she was kept in a stash house prior to being smuggled to El Paso. In that stash house, co-conspirators of Malagon and Estrella repeatedly raped the young girl. She was eventually released just south of Clint, Texas, court records stated.
The couple was convicted for receiving large sums of money to smuggle people from their home country to the U.S. They used identity impersonation to attempt to smuggle young children, according to a criminal complaint obtained by Breitbart Texas.
In November 2013, Zandra Liduvina Llivichuzhca Murillo, an Ecuadorian national, attempted to enter the United States through the Paso Del Norte port of entry in El Paso, Texas. Agents discovered she was using false documents to illegally enter the U.S. The documents she provided were valid documents but they belonged to another person. During an investigation, it was discovered she was the mother of a juvenile that had been captured illegally crossing the border just two days prior, the court’s information revealed. Llivichuzhca admitted she had agreed to pay the defendants $15,000 each to smuggle her and her child into the country. Documents revealed she paid $6,000 in advance. Llivichuzhca spent five months in jail for the impersonation offense.
One year earlier, the couple helped another defendant, Diana Marcial smuggle a two-year-old Salvadoran child across the Bridge of the Americas Port of Entry in El Paso. The woman used her own child’s birth certificate to facilitate the smuggling of the child. The fraud was discovered when the child’s mother Wendy Heredia-Mejia was arrested after using someone else’s documents to enter the U.S. Marcial was sentenced to spend one year on probation and six months in home confinement.
Another Ecudoran national was arrested near Mount Cristo Rey in Sunland Park, New Mexico after he entered into a smuggling agreement with Estrella and Malagon to bring his daughter to the U.S. He agreed to pay the couple $14,000 to smuggle his daughter, court records stated.
Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent in Charge Waldemar Rodriguez from El Paso, credited the team effort of all of the agencies, locally and abroad, that participated in the investigation. “HSI will not relent against human smugglers who treat people like a mere commodity,” he said in a written statement obtained from the Department of Justice by Breitbart Texas. “This case should resonate loud and clear: HSI special agents and our law enforcement partners will work tirelessly to identify arrest and prosecute those responsible for the illegal movement of people into and through our country.”
In addition to the prison time, Judge Cardone ordered the couple to pay a $5,000 special assessment and spend three years on supervised release following their prison time. Estrella was also ordered to pay a fine of $2,500.