Asylee sentenced for third smuggling conviction

McALLEN, Texas – A 41-year-old Honduran asylee residing in Houston has been sentenced for smuggling aliens for the third time, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.

Marlon Enrique Gallegos-Rapalo pleaded guilty May 23. Gallegos was previously convicted of smuggling aliens in 2015 and 2017. Gallegos had been granted withholding of removal under U.S. asylum laws, preventing immigration authorities from removing him.

Chief U.S. District Judge Randy Crane has now sentenced him to 78 months in federal prison. At the hearing, the court heard how Gallegos had committed these offenses while under the protection of immigration laws. In handing down the sentence, the court noted that Gallegos had “committed a serious abuse of the system.” He is expected to face removal proceedings following his sentence.

On July 19, 2022, law enforcement discovered a stash house in McAllen being used to hide 35 migrants illegally present in the United States. Further investigation revealed Gallegos was the lease holder on the house and that he was directing the co-defendant Jose Ever Hernandez-Escobar to provide food and clothes to the migrants. Authorities also found that Gallegos and Hernandez harbored over 200 migrants at this residence during the conspiracy.

“Gallegos was given an incredible opportunity that some don’t have to make a new life in the United States,” said Hamdani. “Instead, he wasted that chance and continued to smuggle migrants, resulting in his third conviction and a lengthy prison term. We will not stop our fight against migrant smuggling, especially those who engage in such a large scale operation.”

Gallegos-Rapalo has been and will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

Hernandez-Escobar, 22, Honduras, also pleaded guilty and is set for sentencing Sept. 19.

Border Patrol conducted the investigation with the assistance of the U.S. Marshals Service, Texas Department of Public Safety, Precinct 3 Hidalgo County Constables’ Office and the McAllen Police Department.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jongwoo Chung and Theodore Parran III prosecuted the case as part of the Human Smuggling Prevention Program (HSPP). The primary goal of HSPP is to disrupt and dismantle human smuggling organizations on our Southwest Border through close cooperation with Homeland Security Investigations, Border Patrol, Customs and Border Protection-Office of Field Operations and local law enforcement partners.

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