Houston man who ran ‘sophisticated’ smuggling scheme gets max sentence

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It only took 45 minutes for a federal jury to return a guilty verdict for a Houston man who was involved in a conspiracy to transport people illegally present in the United States, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office Southern District of Texas.

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez sentenced Andres Beltran Jr., 36, to 10 years in federal prison followed by an additional three years of supervised release.

Co-defendant Jose Luis Beltran Mondragon, 28, was previously ordered to serve the same sentence.

“These men were hands-off coordinators who thought they could hire others to do their dirty work and not get caught,” U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani said. “The swift jury verdict and today’s 10-year prison sentence, the maximum, shows otherwise.”

During the hearing, the court acknowledged the sophisticated organization required to plan and execute multiple human smuggling events.

From February through June of 2020, Beltran, Mondragon and others transported multiple groups of people illegally present in the country from Rio Grande City north toward Laredo for the expected final destination of Houston.

The organization housed the people at a ranch in Rio Grande City until additional members of the organization would transport them north.

Both Beltran and Mondragon would drive down from Houston, coordinate with the drivers, scout the area for law enforcement and accompany the drivers back north alongside each other.

They would typically transport the people in the bed of trucks through private ranch roads in order to circumvent the Border Patrol checkpoints.

The jury also heard evidence of a rollover accident that occurred during a transport event which resulted in serious injury to one of the people being smuggled.

Law enforcement apprehended over 100 people illegally present in the U.S. attributable to the organization throughout the course of the investigation.

During the trial, Beltran tried to convince the jury that they just so happened to be in the area of the smuggling events each and every time, but the jury didn’t believe their defense claims and found them guilty.

Beltran and Mondragon will remain in custody pending transfer to U.S. Bureau of Prisons facilities which will be determined in the near future.