HOUSTON – A 57-year-old an illegal alien
from Mexico has pleaded guilty to harboring illegal aliens, using a firearm
during a crime of violence, illegal re-entry and being an alien in possession
of a firearm, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.
J. Matias Picazo-Lucas was convicted
On Aug. 3, 2017, an individual contacted
Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) to
report that a person had been smuggled into the United States and was being
held against his will in Houston. That person advised that the unknown
smugglers were demanding money in return for the release of the alien.
An undercover agent called the smuggler
and arranged to meet him at a grocery store on Bellaire Boulevard to conduct a
buyout of the relative. Law enforcement was on the scene when Picazo-Lucas
arrived with two aliens who were being held. The agent and Picazo-Lucas
discussed the payment, after which time authorities took Picazo-Lucas into
custody. At the time of his arrest, he was found to be carrying a loaded .38
The two aliens were here illegally from
Guatemala and indicated Picazo-Lucas and another individual, subsequently
identified as Omar Picazo-Torres, had transported them to Houston in a
tractor-trailer. Picazo-Lucas and Picazo-Torres held the hostages at gunpoint
in order to intimidate them and prevent their escape.
The conspirators made phone calls to the
person who had reported the kidnapping and other friends and family members of
the hostages demanding payment for the release of the hostages.
U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison
accepted the plea today and has set sentencing for May 24, 2018. At that time,
Picazo-Lucas faces a total of a minimum five years and up to life for the two
firearms convictions, another 10 years for harboring aliens and a maximum of 20
years on the illegal re-entry conviction. Each count carries a potential fine
of up to $250,000.
Mexican National Omar Picazo-Lucas, 19,
remains a fugitive and a warrant has been issued for his arrest. Anyone with
information about his whereabouts is asked to contact HSI at 866-DHS-2-ICE.
HSI, Brazoria County Sheriff’s Office
and the Houston Police Department conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S.
Attorneys Douglas Davis and Kevin Lear are prosecuting the case.