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Friday, November 20, 2015

Foreign National Pleads Guilty to Human Smuggling Charges



A foreign national pleaded guilty today to conspiracy and a human smuggling charge for her role in a scheme to smuggle undocumented migrants from India into the United States, announced Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson for the Southern District of Texas and Special Agent in Charge Shane Folden of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI) in San Antonio.

On April 23, 2015, Rosa Astrid Umanzor-Lopez, 36, a citizen of Guatemala, was extradited to the United States from Guatemala to face one count of conspiracy to smuggle undocumented migrants into the United States for profit and five counts of human smuggling charges in the Southern District of Texas.

At the plea hearing and in related court documents, Umanzor-Lopez admitted that between January 2011 and her arrest in Guatemala on Feb. 4, 2014, she and other conspirators recruited individuals in India who were willing to pay large sums of money to be smuggled into the United States.  For their smuggling operations, Umanzor-Lopez and her co-conspirators used a network of facilitators to transport groups of undocumented migrants from India through South America and Central America and then into the United States by air travel, automobiles, water craft and foot.  Many of these smuggling events involved illegal entry into the United States via the U.S.-Mexico border near McAllen and Laredo, Texas.

To this date, three co-conspirators have been convicted and sentenced.  Umanzor-Lopez’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for March 4, 2016 in Houston.

The investigation was conducted by ICE-HSI agents in McAllen, with the assistance of U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Alien Smuggling Interdiction Unit.  This case is being prosecuted jointly by Trial Attorney Ann Marie E. Ursini of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Leo J. Leo III and Casey MacDonald of the Southern District of Texas.  The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs provided significant support with the defendant’s extradition.

The investigation was conducted under the Extraterritorial Criminal Travel Strike Force (ECT) program, a joint partnership between the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and HSI.  The ECT program focuses on human smuggling networks that may present particular national security or public safety risks, or present grave humanitarian concerns.  ECT has dedicated investigative, intelligence and prosecutorial resources.  ECT coordinates and receives assistance from other U.S. government agencies and foreign law enforcement authorities.

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