A 47-year-old U.S. citizen from Houston was sentenced on Thursday to three years in federal prison and two additional years of supervised release for his role in a human smuggling operation. Rene Camacho was sentenced in the Southern District of Texas after pleading guilty to charges of conspiracy to transport and harbor illegal aliens.
An investigation revealed that Camacho, along with two Mexican nationals, Albino Vargas-Hernandez, 49, and Hiram Lamarca-Gonzalez, 22, had smuggled illegal aliens using trailers locked with boarded windows. On several occasions, Vargas-Hernandez was known to leave his residence to pick up and deliver illegal aliens to other stash houses. According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), authorities obtained search warrants for the residence of Vargas-Hernandez and the stash houses.
When executing the warrants, authorities found Camacho and Vargas-Hernandez along with 12 illegal aliens inside one of the trailers. The illegal aliens identified Camacho and Vargas-Hernandez as the operators of the smuggling ring. Authorities found lists detailing the aliens and payment information for the operation, as well as wire receipts and cash totaling around $224,000. At court hearings, evidence was presented alleging the smuggling operation 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," said Mark Dawson, special agent in charge of HSI Houston, in a 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."
Following their incarceration, ICE says Vargas-Hernandez and Lamarca-Gonzalez will be placed in removal proceedings.
This past week, agents with the U.S. Border Patrol and Webb County Constables Office (WCCO) discovered three stash houses used for human smuggling in Texas.
Smugglers often force migrants to stay in unsanitary stash houses and cramped compartments along their arduous journies to the United States.
In March of 2019, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents discovered 67 illegal aliens hidden inside a small shed in New Mexico.
CBP encourages those wishing to report suspicious activity, such as alien and/or drug smuggling, to download the "USBP Laredo Sector" App or call the Laredo Sector Border Patrol toll-free at 1-800-343-1994.