VICTORIA, Texas - A 47-year-old Mexican national who
resided in McAllen and Houston has pleaded guilty on the day trial was set to
begin, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.
Humberto Ramirez-Santos admitted to his involvement in a
conspiracy to transport illegal aliens between October 2011 to July 2017. The
alien smuggling organization facilitated the smuggling of illegal aliens from
multiple countries including individuals from China, Russia, India, Brazil,
Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico. Ages of those smuggled into the
country ranged from toddlers to the elderly but were mostly comprised of young
At the hearing today, the court heard that smuggling
trips were taken every week and the total number of aliens transported are
The organization used various methods to facilitate the
smuggling. Co-conspirators drove cars and trucks to locations south of Border
Patrol (BP) checkpoints. There, they were guided through South Texas ranches to
avoid detection. They also used Penske trucks and tractor trailers to smuggle
illegal aliens through various checkpoints.
A particular tactic was to select a tractor trailer
parked at a South Texas truck stop with a suitable temperature. They would then
remove the seal and load the illegal aliens. Members of the organization would
follow the vehicle to the next stop somewhere north of the checkpoint to later
retrieve them. The drivers would be unaware of their human cargo and were
potentially exposed to criminal liability. The aliens were then be transported
in closed Penske trucks to Houston.
Ramirez-Santos provided aliens to be smuggled through his
contacts in Mexico. He also trained the young members of the organization in
how to do counter-surveillance and instructed younger family members in how to move aliens.
Senior U.S. District Judge John Rainey accepted the plea
and has set sentencing for Oct. 1, 2019. At that time, Ramirez-Santos faces up
to 10 years in prison and a possible $250,000 fine.
Previously released on bond, he was permitted to remain
on bond pending sentencing.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security
Investigations, Border Patrol and Houston Police Department conducted the
investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Patti Hubert Booth is prosecuting the