Gulfport, Miss. – Jose Ramon Hernandez-Reyes, 33, an illegal alien from Mexico, was sentenced yesterday to 8 months imprisonment, followed by 3 years of supervised release, for illegal transportation or moving of an alien, announced U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst and Gilbert Trill, Acting Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in New Orleans. Hernandez-Reyes pled guilty to the federal felony offense before Judge Guirola on June 4, 2020.
Additionally, upon completion of his prison sentence, Hernandez-Reyes will face removal proceedings by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE). If he were to unlawfully return to the United States within his term of supervised release, he would be subject to a separate prison sentence that could run consecutive to other penalties he could receive from additional prosecution. As a result of this felony conviction, and as an illegal alien to the United States, who had been formally removed in the past, Hernandez-Reyes could be subject to up to 10 years in prison were he to unlawfully return to the United States.
Hernandez-Reyes’ co-driver, Modesto Alvarado, 18, a United States citizen living in Houston, Texas, also pled guilty in connection with illegal alien smuggling in Harrison County. Alvarado pled guilty and was convicted on June 17, 2020, for the crime of misprison of felony. He is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Guirola on September 15, 2020, at 10:00 a.m., and faces up to 3 years in federal prison, as well as 1 year of supervised release and up to a $250,000 fine.
Additionally, three illegal aliens who had been passengers of Hernandez-Reyes and Alvarado pled guilty and were sentenced for unlawful return of an alien after deportation or removal. Elias Delgado-Ortiz, 19, a citizen of Mexico; Jose Ernaides Aldana-Hernandez, 42, a citizen of El Salvador, and Orbin Noel Gomez-Suarez, 24, a citizen of Honduras, all pled guilty before Judge Guirola. Delgado-Ortiz was sentenced on June 2, 2020, to “time served” (or effectively 6 months and 1 day); and both Aldana-Hernandez and Gomez-Suarez were sentenced on June 3, 2020, to “time served” (or effectively 6 months and 2 days).
The three illegal alien passengers each also were sentenced to a term of 1 year of supervised release, and were to face Department of Homeland Security removal proceedings to remove them back to their home nations. If any of the three men were to unlawfully return again to the United States, during their term of supervised release, the offender could face separate penalties consecutive to imprisonment from additional prosecution. As a result of their felony convictions, if Delgado-Ortiz, Aldana-Hernandez or Gomez-Suarez were to unlawfully return again to the United States, the offender could face up to 10 years in federal prison.
On December 4, 2019, an agent of the South Mississippi Metro Enforcement Team (SMMET) conducted a traffic stop on Interstate 10 eastbound in Jackson County. The SMMET is a federal, state, local law enforcement task force that among its partner agencies, includes the United States Border Patrol, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department and the City of Gautier Police Department. After making the traffic stop, the SMMET agent found that the driver, Modesto Alvarado, was a U.S. citizen who spoke fluent English, but did not have a valid driver’s license.
Including the driver, nine people were in the minivan, which was more than the vehicle was designed to carry or had seat belts to secure. The agent believed a smuggling event was taking place, and notified the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Blue Lightening Operations Center, in Gulfport, and all occupants were transported to the Gautier Police Department for initial processing.
Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents and task force agents responded to Gautier to interview the occupants. None of the nine minivan occupants had proper identification documents and eight were found to be illegally present in the United States. After interviewing all occupants, it was determined that seven passengers were being smuggled from Houston, Texas, to different locations throughout the United States. One of the two drivers (who rented the minivan) was Hernandez-Reyes who was determined to be the brother-in-law of Modesto Alvarado. Three of their passengers, Delgado-Ortiz, Aldana-Hernandez, and Gomez-Suarez were determined to have been lawfully deported or removed from the United States, and to have unlawfully returned to the U.S. after their removal.
U.S. Attorney Hurst praised the cooperation exhibited by the Department of Homeland Security, United States Border Patrol, Homeland Security Investigations, South Mississippi Metro Enforcement Team, Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, and the City of Gautier Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Stan Harris is the prosecutor for the case.