Two Guatemalans Plead Guilty To 2021 Human Smuggling Conspiracy in Texas

According to the Department of Justice, two Guatemalan males who unlawfully crossed the border between the United States and Mexico while leading other migrants through did so on Thursday. They admitted to participating in a conspiracy that claimed one immigrant’s life.

Police detained Jose Diego Tercero-Gonzalez, 22, and Armando Gael-Galicia, 26, in August 2021 after a young Guatemalan woman’s body was found close to Odessa, Texas. The victim passed away in the trailer owned by Gael-Galicia and Tercero-Gonzalez, which also housed other illegal immigrants. On Thursday, the defendants acknowledged that they “managed a successful organization for the smuggling of aliens and were accountable for the migrant’s transit.”

The incident occurs as President Joe Biden deals with an unprecedented crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border. In this fiscal year, two million illegal immigrants entered the country. Biden assigned Kamala Harris, the vice president, to manage the situation; however, she has only made one trip to the border, and Democratic congressman Henry Cuellar has said that “it doesn’t appear like she’s particularly engaged” in the problem.

The Justice Department said the case is associated with the indictments of additional people smugglers who “facilitate the travel of large numbers of migrants from Guatemala through Mexico, and ultimately to the United States, charging the migrants and their families approximately $10,000 to $12,000 for the perilous journey.” The other traffickers have been detained by Guatemalan officials, who are getting ready to extradite them to the US for prosecution.

According to the DOJ website, Homeland Security Investigations Acting Executive Associate Director Steve Francis stated that “While this conviction is a significant win for law enforcement agencies and task force partners, it’s equally important to acknowledge the closure and semblance of justice it brings the family and friends of the victims” (HSI). “Human traffickers have little respect for human life, and one of our agency’s main goals is to stop them from violating federal laws in order to make money. You can be confident that HSI special agents will continue to use their extensive power and global reach to find, look into, and dismantle local and international criminal organizations involved in people smuggling activities everywhere.

According to CBP Deputy Commissioner Troy Miller, “International criminal organizations prioritize financial gain over the lives of people.” “CBP has invested a lot of time, energy, and money into attacking the root causes of this issue by participating in programs like Joint Task Force Alpha. These alliances are essential for uprooting the crooks who prey on the weak.

Joint Task Force Alpha coordinated this investigation (JTFA). Attorney General Merrick B. Garland established the JTFA in June 2021 in collaboration with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in order to bolster the Department’s overall efforts to combat these crimes in light of the rise in dangerous and prodigious smuggling coming from Central America and affecting our border communities. With a focus on networks that put migrants in danger, mistreat or exploit them, pose a threat to national security, or engage in other forms of transnational organized crime, JTFA’s mission is to disrupt and dismantle those human smuggling and trafficking networks operating in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico.

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