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Date: 05-16-2024

Case Style:

United States of America v. Wilkin Perez-Perez

Case Number: 5:18-cr-00172

Judge: Keith P. Ellison

Court: The United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas (Webb County)

Plaintiff's Attorney: The United States Attorney’s Office in Laredo

Defendant's Attorney: Arturo Gailegos


Laredo, Texas criminal defense lawyer Arturo Gailegos represented the Defendant charged with conspiracy.

Smuggler sent to prison in conspiracy resulting in two deaths

Wilkin Perez-Perez, 35-year-old citizen of the Dominican Republic, was sentenced to federal prison for conspiracy to transport individuals within the United States resulting in death.

U.S. District Judge Keith P. Ellison found Perez-Perez to be a leader in the conspiracy and ordered Perez-Perez to serve 135 months in federal prison. Not a U.S. citizen, he is expected to face removal proceedings following his imprisonment. At the hearing, the court heard additional evidence that Perez-Perez was involved in numerous alien smuggling events, engaged in violent conduct both in and outside the scope of this conspiracy, to include the possession of a weapon, and that Perez-Perez fled the United States when he learned of his arrest.

“ 'Two bodies found along the banks of the Rio Grande,’ a tragic and all too often headline made possible by ruthless and reckless human smugglers like Perez-Perez and the transnational criminal organizations that employ the likes of him,” said Hamdani. “We will go to any lengths necessary to prosecute the leaders and members of these organizations who care only about cash and not about they humans they transport. Let this case be an example to anyone thinking about becoming a part of the deadly smuggling industry in the United States, you will be held accountable…no matter how long it takes.”

Perez-Perez had been in charge and managing the transportation of people into the United States as well as their harboring in the country.

On Sept. 21, 2017, Melvin L. Barahona-Godoy and Yoryi Alexis Perez led several people to the Rio Grande River. Two drowned while trying to cross into the United States. Authorities discovered their bodies along the river bank.

The investigation led to Perez-Perez who had returned to the Dominican Republic following the discovery of the deceased individuals. He was determined to being in charge of and managing the U.S. branch of the organization. He had coordinated the transportation of these and other individuals, including the two that died, into the interior of the United States and harboring them in Laredo.

Perez-Perez will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

Barahona-Godoy, 27, Guatemala, and Perez, 34, Dominican Republic, were also charged in relation to the transportation and harboring of the men and others and were later sentenced to 57 and 78 months in prison, respectively.

Homeland Security Investigations, Border Patrol and U.S. Marshals Service conducted the investigation.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Scott Bowling prosecuted the case.


Defendant was found guilty and sentenced to 135 months in federal prison. Not a U.S. citizen, he is expected to face removal proceedings following his imprisonment.

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