Three Convicted in Immigrant Smuggling Case that Resulted in Death

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Three individuals have entered guilty pleas for their roles in a conspiracy to transport illegal aliens within the United States, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson.

Antonio Arredondo Jr.,41, of Alamo; and Carlos Valentin Avendano-Lucio, 35, and Nancy Yadira Moreno-Ruiz, 34, both of Mexico, knew that individuals had illegally come to the U.S. and conspired to transport them further within the country. During and in relation to the crime, a female undocumented alien was killed.

The investigation revealed the female victim had been smuggled with a group of undocumented aliens discovered near the Pharr port of entry on Aug. 4, 2014. A foot guide had provided instructions to the group as to how to walk along the bridge and then scale down the bridge. In the process of crossing the bridge, the woman fell off the bridge and sustained severe injuries before being left behind by the group. On Aug. 5, 2014, authorities located a deceased female on the levee near the same port of entry and identified her as the woman who fell off the bridge.

The foot guide, Victor Moreno-Ruiz, 33, of Mexico, previously pleaded guilty and was sentenced on Nov. 23, 2015, to 150 months in prison. 

During his guilty plea, Arredondo admitted that on Aug. 4, 2014, he was involved in the conspiracy. His role was to coordinate the smuggling arrangements for at least two of those undocumented aliens, including the deceased woman. Avendano-Lucio admitted he participated in the conspiracy by driving a van loaded with the group of undocumented aliens from Reynosa, Mexico, into Pharr. Nancy Yadira Moreno-Ruiz admitted to participating in the conspiracy by recruiting her husband, Avendano-Lucio, to drive the group of undocumented aliens from Mexico and into the United States.  

U.S. District Judge Ricardo Hinojosa accepted the pleas and set sentencing for Feb. 23, 2017. At that time, each faces up to life in prison and a possible $250,000 fine. 

Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation with assistance by Border Patrol, Pharr Police Department and Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Alex Benavides is prosecuting the case.

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