Federal jury convicts Austin man who harbored female at local motel
POSTED: Tuesday, December 10, 2013 - 2:30pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, December 11, 2013 - 10:40am
CORPUS CHRISTI, TX — Jose Gallegos, 47, of Austin, has been found guilty by a Corpus Christi jury of harboring and transporting an undocumented person, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson. The verdict was returned late this morning following a two-day trial and approximately 45 minutes of deliberation.
On Aug. 17, 2013, Gallegos was caught at the Sarita Border Patrol checkpoint with a scantily-clad 18-year-old female passenger. During trial, the jury heard testimony that she was being smuggled by Gallegos and his associates from Mexico to New Jersey. The young woman provided tearful testimony that she was sexually assaulted by Gallegos, forced to wear revealing clothing and receive facial piercings. She further testified she was threatened with death if she disobeyed or told anyone.
Gallegos kept the young woman and other undocumented persons being smuggled from Mexico at a Palmview motel for two weeks prior to being arrested at the checkpoint.
The defendant appeared pro se, representing himself in all proceedings and claimed the government was merely attacking him. The jury disagreed and found him guilty as charged.
U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos, who presided over the trial, will set sentencing at a later date. At the time of that hearing, Gallegos will face up to five years imprisonment and a possible $250,000 fine. He will remain in custody pending sentencing.
The matter was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations in conjunction with the U.S. Border Patrol. Assistant United States Attorney Jeffrey D. Preston prosecuted the case.