LAREDO, Texas – A 26-year-old El Cenizo man has entered a
guilty plea for his role in a conspiracy to smuggle undocumented aliens,
announced Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez. Jose Francisco Morales Jr. is the
last of 13 to be convicted in the conspiracy in which illegal aliens were
smuggled past Border Patrol checkpoints between September 2015 and June 2017.
Previously pleading guilty were the leaders of the
organization - Jose Andres Gongoria Jr., 34, Sandra Nelly Chapa-Gongoria, 33,
and Carlos Enrique Reyna-Garcia, 29, all of Laredo.
Other members of the organization acted as scouts,
transporters and stash house operators and had also previously pleaded
guilty. Those included Jose Andres Alberto Gongoria Sr., 46, Maria De
Lourdes Gongoria, 36, Mario Adalberto Ramirez, 34, Juan Antonio Luna, 47, all
of El Cenizo; Jose Garcia III, 36, Abraham Garza, 24, and Guillermo
Valdovinos-Rios, 55, all of Laredo; Luis Rodriguez Jr., 19, of Dallas; and
Joseph Graves, 25, of Savannah, Georgia.
Members of the smuggling organization would drop undocumented
aliens off in the brush and then guide them around Border Patrol
checkpoints. They would then pick up the aliens once they passed the
checkpoints and transport them further north.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Diana Song Quiroga accepted the plea
today. Sentencing will be set for a later date before U.S. District Judge
Marina Garcia Marmolejo. At that time, each defendant faces up to 10 years in
federal prison and a possible $250,000 maximum.
Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s
Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S.
Attorney (AUSA) Alfredo De La Rosa and Special AUSA Andrew Hunt are prosecuting