Skip to comments.Entrant-smuggling ring 'significant'; Tucson role major
Posted on 05/11/2005 6:43:54 AM PDT by Kokojmudd
By Michael Marizco ARIZONA DAILY STAR
Seven members of a "significant" migrant smuggling ring that operated in Tucson and Mammoth were arrested by federal agents Monday.
The seven people arrested are part of a larger group that moved hundreds of people across the Arizona border to states as far away as Florida. The organization used at least four Tucson homes to stash people, and used Western Union to collect a fee from family members of the illegal border crossers it smuggled across.
The migrant smugglers admitted to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents that they collected $430,000 in wire transfers, the criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Tucson shows.
In an investigation that started in early 2004, federal agents used informants and wiretaps to stop multiple rental cars filled with illegal entrants coming in from Naco to Tucson, the complaint shows. Over the course of the year, more illegal entrants were arrested at different rental properties in Tucson. Investigators began to see a pattern as the names of some of the people in the smuggling organization kept coming up.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement served 10 federal search warrants in Tucson and Mammoth on Monday.
One person, Rose Marie Chavez, was released on her own recognizance Tuesday. The other six remain in federal custody, said Sandy Raynor, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Phoenix.
All seven were charged with conspiring to smuggle people, a felony charge that carries a maximum 10 years in prison. Seven more people are still at large, officials said.
The smugglers had also been operating on the north side of the Catalina Mountains, said Mammoth Police Chief Neal Mullard.
U.S. officials offered little information into the smuggling operation, but the criminal complaint offers a rare look at how an elaborate smuggling network operates - using rental cars, apartments and wire transfers to shuttle illegal entrants into and throughout the United States.
It also describes the sting operation used to identify and eventually shut down the smuggling ring.
How many people were smuggled into the U.S. is not known, but in a tape-recorded conversation, a smuggler within the organization said he had more than 100 people waiting to be crossed over. In another tape-recorded conversation, there were so many people waiting to be moved, the smugglers were having to recruit more people to rent cars for transporting illegal entrants.
According to the criminal complaint:
The case started in January 2004 when Border Patrol agents stopped a smuggler in a car belonging to Sergio Limon Salcedo, now in federal custody. Two more vehicles were stopped; each time the cars were registered to people in the smuggling organization.
Then in April 2004, 27 illegal entrants were picked up from a house in the 1100 block of Edison Street and the same day, seven more were apprehended from a house in the 1600 block of East Broadway.
Informants and people arrested in the busts told the agents the houses were being rented for Cipriano Reyes Gaona. His name would surface again in the allegations against the smuggling ring.
In a June stash-house bust, in the 1500 block of East Bantam Road, five more people were arrested for sneaking across the border. Cell-phone numbers belonging to Reyes Gaona and Limon Salcedo were found.
The sting started in July, when an undercover agent posing as a smuggler called Reyes Gaona to arrange for the man to hold a group of illegal entrants for the agent.
The following September, yet another car belonging to Limon Salcedo was seized, this one holding eight entrants.
Renting and buying cars eventually became a problem for the smuggling ring. Each time a car was stopped, it was impounded by the Border Patrol. In October, one of the suspects, Rose Marie Chavez, was recorded as she contemplated attending a Border Patrol auction to buy the seized cars back.
The movement of money was the next key, because each time money changed hands, the transactions were made through Western Union.
In December, yet another name emerged, Juan Ramirez Lieres. Combined with other smugglers, he accumulated more than $300,000 in Western Union transfers. He is not in custody.
The smuggling ring started working in Mammoth about three years ago, said Russell Ahr, spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The group came in from the Mexican state of Nayarit at that time, then eventually moved the operations to Tucson, he said.
The agency viewed the organization as an important smuggling group, said Michael McCool, deputy special agent in charge of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Arizona office.
"Any type of group that has that many people in it is going to be significant," he said.
In the most efficient smuggling organizations, individuals are structured "to rent homes, some to rent vehicles, some to drive vehicles; this group had that ability," McCool said.
● Contact reporter Michael Marizco at 573-4213 or at email@example.com.
Doesn't this remind you of a terrorist organization. If we can shut down organizations that fund AlQueda by cutting off the flow of money, why can't we stop wire transfers to Mexico. If the money dries up to fund things other than the Mexican economy, wouldn't the people start to turn on their own government?? Probably not, but damn, this seems like a good place to stop hemorrhaging cash to an unfriendly communistic and completely corrupt government.
If Juan Ramirez Lieres is smart, he will delete the Lieres from his name and use the Bank of America or Wells Fargo for his money transfers. I feel sure he has more than one matricular ID.
In Colmes, Texas they just caught 12 illegals being smuggled in a train. They caught the smuggler but here in Texas, he will just get a slap on the wrist.
How funny you mention MC card. We were just asking yesterday how many each illegal alien is issued.
I need some Maalox!! :)
The investigators said they saw a pattern of the same names being used. LOL. Can you imagine how many smuggling rings there are by people using the names of Maria Garcia, Juan Ramirez, Jose Gonzalez just to name a few. Can you see a pattern? How many of these are listed on matricular IDs or in phone books?
Quite possibly, the reason LEOs don't arrest illegals, is they don't have a clue as to the problem we have in this country now.
I think they DO know how bad the problem is. It's a leftist insurrection, and has been funded for decades by MALDEF, LARAZA, MEXA/MECHA..
I was astounded:
Protect our borders and coastlines from all foreign invaders!
Be Ever Vigilant!
Minutemen Patriots ~ Bump!
Not to mention the Ford Foundation, and I believe the Rockefeller Foundation.
"Undocumented Travel Agents", beware!
Yes,exactly. The "Foundations" are also a focus at the at the link.
To appear, or not to appear, that is the question. I'm thinkin' she'll go on the lam.
... the criminal complaint offers a rare look at how an elaborate smuggling network operates - using rental cars, apartments and wire transfers to shuttle illegal entrants into and throughout the United States.
A rare look at how an elaborate smuggling network operates? As if none of us ever would've thought about smugglers using rental cars, stolen cars, drop houses, wire transfers for illegal purposes...
Grrrrrrr. I am past 'having a snit fit' over this.
This is never a good thing. I have been patient. *ding* oh look, my timer just went off!! Every American must do something to stop this. Could you tell me what nationality members of Congress are? / s
Quisling: a synonym for "traitor", someone who collaborates with the invaders of his country.
I'm sure Homeland Security will give them gold medals, as they are doing exactly what the Bush administration wants. Too bad they got caught, Bush really needs people like these.
???? WTF? "Entrants" are folks participating in a foot race or a bake-off.
They are NOT individuals that are illegally busting through an international border!
Fernando Ortiz was a landscape engineer on Long Island who had demanded to be able to vote, on the basis that he had been paying state and federal taxes for ten years. Actually, he had been stopped from casting a ballot by a poll watcher who had suspected his citizenship status, and (illegally, as it turned out) demanded proof of his identity and legal qualification to vote. Ortiz had won a multi-million dollar settlement against the Republican Party of New York in the subsequent racial profiling and ethnic intimidation civil suit, but he did not stop there.
Instead, with massive support from the ACLU and various Hispanic immigrants rights foundations, he had pressed his demand to be allowed to vote all the way to the Supreme Court and he won. The Supreme Court, in its famous 5-4 decision, ruled that negligence in securing Americas borders against illegal immigration on the part of the federal government, could not be held against undocumented workers who played by the rules and paid their taxes, once they were established in Americalegally or not. The federal government had not taken reasonable efforts to secure the border, and had not pursued "undocumented workers" in the USA. Instead, it openly permitted them most of the benefits of citizenship, and it collected their taxes. "No taxation without representation!" was the cry heard all the way to the Supreme Court. The State of New York had then sleep-walked through an aimless and desultory case for denying the voteand citizenshipto undocumented workers.
Following Ortiz v. New York, a stunned America woke up to discover that there were not only an amazing twenty-two million illegal aliens hiding in plain sight across the land, but that eight million of them immediately qualified to vote. In a nation split 50-50 down party and ideological lines, these eight million new voters were recognized to be the certain majority-makers in future elections, and both parties set record lows for cravenness in pandering to their needs. Chief among their needs were liberal new family reunification laws, and these instant citizensillegal aliens only a year beforebegan bringing the remainders of their families to the USA. Legally.
Overnight, wavering Democrat states became locks, and swing states with large Hispanic populations went solidly blue. The result was the recent election which had brought Gobernador Deleon to power in Nuevo Mexico, and had also brought radical Democrats to power in the White House and both houses of congress.
Thus had come the political tsunami which swept all before it, a tidal wave triggered by an undocumented lawn maintenance worker named Fernando Ortiz.
The 2006 election is going to be a mess.