PLATTSBURGH, NEW YORK – Rene Lima-Rivera, age 47, and Jose Portillo-Lopez, age 70, of Norwalk, Connecticut, were arrested on April 4 for conspiring to commit alien smuggling.
The announcement was made by Acting United States Attorney Antoinette T. Bacon and Robert N. Garcia, Chief Patrol Agent, United States Border Patrol, Swanton Sector. At a bail hearing yesterday, United States Magistrate Judge Gary L. Favro ordered Lima-Rivera detained and Portillo-Lopez released pending further proceedings.
According to the criminal complaint, on the night of April 3, U.S. Border Patrol agents observed a suspicious van travelling back and forth along State Route 11 in Chateaugay, New York. Border Patrol agents from the Burke Border Patrol Station stopped the vehicle and determined that four of the passengers were Vietnamese citizens who had illegally crossed into the United States. Portillo-Lopez told agents that Lima-Rivera had hired him to pick up these passengers.
The charges in the complaint are merely accusations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. The four citizens of Vietnam were expelled back to Canada.
The charges filed against Lima-Rivera and Portillo-Lopez carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and a term of supervised release of up to 3 years. A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the particular statute the defendant is charged with violating, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other factors.
This case is being investigated by United States Border Patrol and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Shira Hoffman.