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Case Number: 7:22-cr-01615
Judge: Randy Crane
Court: United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas (Hidalgo County)
Plaintiff's Attorney: United States Attorney’s Office in McAllen
Description: McAllen, Texas criminal defense lawyer represented Defendant charged with harboring aliens.
Not a U.S. citizen, Sanjuana Yurit Garcia-Salazar, age 39, was pled guilty to harboring aliens, is expected to face removal proceedings following her imprisonment. At the hearing, the court heard additional evidence that Garcia was an indispensable link in the chain of events that led to the death of a migrant. In handing down the sentence, the court noted alien smuggling is an inherently dangerous crime, and the harborers, transporters and money launderers in the conspiracy all understand the risks migrants face as they must walk through the South Texas brush in sweltering heat.
“Leaving a migrant’s dead body on the side of the road is a growing and common tragedy along the southern border and shows the callousness of human smugglers,” said Hamdani. “Today’s sentence is a message that our office will aggressively prosecute those who smuggle migrants and harbor migrants, treating them as chattel and endangering their lives solely for profit.”
Law enforcement had discovered the body of a deceased Guatemalan citizen in Edna near FM 234.
The investigation revealed the victim had been harbored at a residence in Edinburg before transportation further into the United States.
Authorities went to a residence believed related to the crime residence Sept. 13, 2022, where they encountered Garcia-Salazar. A subsequent search led to the discovery of 21 individuals illegally present in the United States. Garcia-Salazar admitted she harbored 50 to 60 individuals per week for two years for financial gain.
She further acknowledged knowing about the Guatemalan male whom she had harbored at her residence. She noted he had a really bad cough before being transported away from her residence.
Garcia-Salazar has been in custody since her arrest where she will remain pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
Border Patrol conducted the investigation with the assistance of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jongwoo Chung prosecuted the case, which was brought as part of the Missing Migrant Program (MMP). Established in 2021, MMP’s objective is to review migrant smuggling fatalities and determine if there is the possibility of further investigation and prosecution.
Outcome: Defendant was sentenced to 24 months' in prison.