CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – A Corpus Christi federal jury has convicted a 42-year-old legal permanent resident of Houston for transporting an illegal alien, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.
The jury deliberated for one hour before convicting Ivis Orestes Irias-Romero following a two-day trial.
On Nov. 14, 2020, at approximately 11:00 p.m., Irias-Romero drove a truck into the primary inspection area at the Border Patrol (BP) checkpoint near Sarita. He had a female riding as passenger.
Irias-Romero said he was from Honduras and produced his immigration card. However, the female did not respond when asked about her status. Instead, Irias-Romero claimed she was his wife and produced a copy of a marriage license certificate.
Authorities then asked the woman again, this time in Spanish. She admitted she was a Honduran citizen unlawfully living in Houston. She testified at trial and said she met Irias-Romero four years prior while on Facebook. She added that she had unsuccessfully tried several times to enter the United States, but finally made it in November 2020. She then contacted Irias-Romero who agreed to travel to Brownsville to pick her up and bring her to Houston.
After his arrest, Irias-Romero admitted the woman was not his wife and that he knew she was in the United States illegally. However, at trial, he contended that he was saving her from a hostage situation. The jury was not convinced and convicted him as charged.
U.S. District Judge David Morales presided over trial and set sentencing for July 14. At that time, Irias-Romero faces up to five years of imprisonment and a possible $250,000 maximum fine.
Irias-Romero was permitted to remain on bond pending that hearing.
BP conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael Hess and Patrick Overman prosecuted the case.