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Case Number: 7:22-cr-00292-3
Judge: Micaela Alvarez
Court: United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas (Hidalgo County)
Plaintiff's Attorney: United States Attorney’s Office
Description: McAllen, Texas criminal defense lawyer represented defendant charged with conspiracy and harboring and transporting aliens within the country.
Silverio Moreno-Calderon, age 27, n illegally resided in a stash house on West 1st Street in Mission. On Feb. 2, authorities observed Moreno-Calderon exit the residence and meet with a driver in a black sport utility vehicle.
At that time, Moreno-Calderon prepared the vehicle for transportation of the undocumented individuals by rearranging the vehicle’s contents and viewing it from all angles with the doors both open and closed.
The jury heard that Moreno-Calderon directed three individuals into the vehicle and concealed them with blankets, boxes and various items. Soon after, the loaded vehicle departed from the residence. Law enforcement conducted a traffic stop and found the undocumented individuals in the car. They were later determined to be illegally present in the United States.
Authorities searched the residence and discovered an additional 24 people who had been smuggled into the country and were awaiting further transportation.
At trial, two of the aliens provided testimony describing how Moreno-Calderon confiscated their cell phones upon arrival to the house, enforced rules they needed to follow and determined when they would be able to contact their families. One of individuals testified how Moreno-Calderon punched him in the face for attempting to use his cell phone without permission.
Moreno-Calderon’s co-conspirators previously pleaded guilty to transporting aliens within the United States. One of whom, the driver, testified how he had driven from Houston the day before and planned to transport four aliens back to the area. However, he and Moreno-Calderon were only able to fit three people in the vehicle due to their size. He also told the jury how he followed Moreno-Calderon’s advice as it seemed like he had done this many times. He testified how Moreno-Calderon told him that he was planning on walking a group north following the driver’s departure.
The defense attempted to convince the jury that Moreno-Calderon was just an alien who was also smuggled, not a smuggler. The jury did not believe those claims and found him guilty as charged.
U.S. District Judge Miceala Alvarez presided over the trial and set sentencing for Nov. 3. At that time, Moreno-Calderon faces up to 10 years on each conviction as well as a possible $10 million maximum fine.
Moreno-Calderon has been and will remain in custody pending that hearing.
Border Patrol conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Eric D. Flores and Lee Fry are prosecuting the case.
8 US Code § 1324 - Bringing in and harboring certain aliens, which provides:
(a) Criminal penalties
(A) Any person who—
(i) knowing that a person is an alien, brings to or attempts to bring to the United States in any manner whatsoever such person at a place other than a designated port of entry or place other than as designated by the Commissioner, regardless of whether such alien has received prior official authorization to come to, enter, or reside in the United States and regardless of any future official action which may be taken with respect to such alien;
(ii) knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that an alien has come to, entered, or remains in the United States in violation of law, transports, or moves or attempts to transport or move such alien within the United States by means of transportation or otherwise, in furtherance of such violation of law;
(iii) knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that an alien has come to, entered, or remains in the United States in violation of law, conceals, harbors, or shields from detection, or attempts to conceal, harbor, or shield from detection, such alien in any place, including any building or any means of transportation;
(iv) encourages or induces an alien to come to, enter, or reside in the United States, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such coming to, entry, or residence is or will be in violation of law; or
(I) engages in any conspiracy to commit any of the preceding acts, or
(II) aids or abets the commission of any of the preceding acts,
shall be punished as provided in subparagraph (B).
(B) A person who violates subparagraph (A) shall, for each alien in respect to whom such a violation occurs—
(i) in the case of a violation of subparagraph (A)(i) or (v)(I) or in the case of a violation of subparagraph (A)(ii), (iii), or (iv) in which the offense was done for the purpose of commercial advantage or private financial gain, be fined under title 18, imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both;
(ii) in the case of a violation of subparagraph (A)(ii), (iii), (iv), or (v)(II), be fined under title 18, imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both;
(iii) in the case of a violation of subparagraph (A)(i), (ii), (iii), (iv), or (v) during and in relation to which the person causes serious bodily injury (as defined in section 1365 of title 18) to, or places in jeopardy the life of, any person, be fined under title 18, imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both; and
(iv) in the case of a violation of subparagraph (A)(i), (ii), (iii), (iv), or (v) resulting in the death of any person, be punished by death or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, fined under title 18, or both.
(C) It is not a violation of clauses  (ii) or (iii) of subparagraph (A), or of clause (iv) of subparagraph (A) except where a person encourages or induces an alien to come to or enter the United States, for a religious denomination having a bona fide nonprofit, religious organization in the United States, or the agents or officers of such denomination or organization, to encourage, invite, call, allow, or enable an alien who is present in the United States to perform the vocation of a minister or missionary for the denomination or organization in the United States as a volunteer who is not compensated as an employee, notwithstanding the provision of room, board, travel, medical assistance, and other basic living expenses, provided the minister or missionary has been a member of the denomination for at least one year.
(2) Any person who, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that an alien has not received prior official authorization to come to, enter, or reside in the United States, brings to or attempts to bring to the United States in any manner whatsoever, such alien, regardless of any official action which may later be taken with respect to such alien shall, for each alien in respect to whom a violation of this paragraph occurs—
(A) be fined in accordance with title 18 or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; or
(B) in the case of—
(i) an offense committed with the intent or with reason to believe that the alien unlawfully brought into the United States will commit an offense against the United States or any State punishable by imprisonment for more than 1 year,
(ii) an offense done for the purpose of commercial advantage or private financial gain, or
(iii) an offense in which the alien is not upon arrival immediately brought and presented to an appropriate immigration officer at a designated port of entry,
be fined under title 18 and shall be imprisoned, in the case of a first or second violation of subparagraph (B)(iii), not more than 10 years, in the case of a first or second violation of subparagraph (B)(i) or (B)(ii), not less than 3 nor more than 10 years, and for any other violation, not less than 5 nor more than 15 years.
(A) Any person who, during any 12-month period, knowingly hires for employment at least 10 individuals with actual knowledge that the individuals are aliens described in subparagraph (B) shall be fined under title 18 or imprisoned for not more than 5 years, or both.
(B) An alien described in this subparagraph is an alien who—
(i) is an unauthorized alien (as defined in section 1324a(h)(3) of this title), and
(ii) has been brought into the United States in violation of this subsection.
(4) In the case of a person who has brought aliens into the United States in violation of this subsection, the sentence otherwise provided for may be increased by up to 10 years if—
(A) the offense was part of an ongoing commercial organization or enterprise;
(B) aliens were transported in groups of 10 or more; and
(i) aliens were transported in a manner that endangered their lives; or
(ii) the aliens presented a life-threatening health risk to people in the United States.
(b) Seizure and forfeiture
(1) In general
Any conveyance, including any vessel, vehicle, or aircraft, that has been or is being used in the commission of a violation of subsection (a), the gross proceeds of such violation, and any property traceable to such conveyance or proceeds, shall be seized and subject to forfeiture.
(2) Applicable procedures
Seizures and forfeitures under this subsection shall be governed by the provisions of chapter 46 of title 18 relating to civil forfeitures, including section 981(d) of such title, except that such duties as are imposed upon the Secretary of the Treasury under the customs laws described in that section shall be performed by such officers, agents, and other persons as may be designated for that purpose by the Attorney General.
(3) Prima facie evidence in determinations of violationsIn determining whether a violation of subsection (a) has occurred, any of the following shall be prima facie evidence that an alien involved in the alleged violation had not received prior official authorization to come to, enter, or reside in the United States or that such alien had come to, entered, or remained in the United States in violation of law:
(A) Records of any judicial or administrative proceeding in which that alien’s status was an issue and in which it was determined that the alien had not received prior official authorization to come to, enter, or reside in the United States or that such alien had come to, entered, or remained in the United States in violation of law.
(B) Official records of the Service or of the Department of State showing that the alien had not received prior official authorization to come to, enter, or reside in the United States or that such alien had come to, entered, or remained in the United States in violation of law.
(C) Testimony, by an immigration officer having personal knowledge of the facts concerning that alien’s status, that the alien had not received prior official authorization to come to, enter, or reside in the United States or that such alien had come to, entered, or remained in the United States in violation of law.
(c) Authority to arrest
No officer or person shall have authority to make any arrests for a violation of any provision of this section except officers and employees of the Service designated by the Attorney General, either individually or as a member of a class, and all other officers whose duty it is to enforce criminal laws.
(d) Admissibility of videotaped witness testimony
Notwithstanding any provision of the Federal Rules of Evidence, the videotaped (or otherwise audiovisually preserved) deposition of a witness to a violation of subsection (a) who has been deported or otherwise expelled from the United States, or is otherwise unable to testify, may be admitted into evidence in an action brought for that violation if the witness was available for cross examination and the deposition otherwise complies with the Federal Rules of Evidence.
(e) Outreach program
The Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Attorney General and the Secretary of State, as appropriate, shall develop and implement an outreach program to educate the public in the United States and abroad about the penalties for bringing in and harboring aliens in violation of this section.
Outcome: 07/19/2022 Minute Entry for proceedings held before Judge Micaela Alvarez: SECOND DAY OF JURY TRIAL as to Silverio Moreno-Calderon held on 7/19/2022. Minute Entry for proceedings held before Judge Micaela Alvarez. SECOND DAY of JURY TRIAL held on 7/19/2022. Parties present and ready. Defense called witness: Deft/3 Silverio Moreno-Calderon. Parties approached for Bench Conference. Defense rests. Out of the presence of the jury, the Court addressed Jury instructions. No objections from Government. Defense Counsel objected to paragraph 13. Overruled. The Court charged the jury followed by Counsels closing arguments. Jury retired to begin deliberations. Deft/3 found Guilty as to all counts. Jury dismissed. Scheduling dates given, written order to follow. Appearances: Eric Flores, Lee Fry, USA; Vincent Carrizales, RETD; ERO: Xavier Avalos [9:08-9:46/9:52-10:45/11:05-11:25/12:48-1:51/2:58-3:00]; Interpreters: C. Helmerichs, E. Medrano; DUSM: M. Buban. Deft remanded to custody, filed.(MayraGuillen, 7) (Entered: 07/19/2022)
07/19/2022 85 Jury List as to Silverio Moreno-Calderon, filed. (Attachments: # 1 Government's Peremptory challenges, # 2 Defendant's Peremptory challenges)(YeseniaIbarra, 7) (Entered: 07/20/2022)
07/19/2022 86 Court's Instructions to the Jury as to Silverio Moreno-Calderon, filed. (YeseniaIbarra, 7) (Entered: 07/20/2022)
07/19/2022 87 JURY VERDICT as to Silverio Moreno-Calderon (3) Guilty on Count 1-4, filed. (YeseniaIbarra, 7) (Additional attachment(s) added on 7/20/2022: # 1 Unredacted attachment) (YeseniaIbarra, 7). (Entered: 07/20/2022)