Human smugglers receive maximum sentence

McALLEN, Texas – A 36-year-old Houston man has been ordered to federal prison for his involvement in a conspiracy involving the transportation of undocumented aliens throughout South Texas, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.

A federal jury deliberated for approximately 45 minutes before returning guilty verdicts Dec. 14, 2022, against Andres Beltran Jr., and Jose Luis Beltran Mondragon, 28, both of Houston, following a three-day trial.

U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez has now ordered Beltran to serve a total of 120 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release. At the hearing, the court noted the sophistication and organization it took to plan and execute the multiple alien transport events.

Mondragon was previously ordered to serve the same sentence.

“These men were hands-off coordinators who thought they could hire others to do their dirty work and not get caught,” said Hamdani. “The swift jury verdict and today’s 10-year prison sentence, the maximum, shows otherwise. This office is committed to prosecuting every part of a human smuggling operation, from the drivers to the ones pulling the strings.”

On several occasions from February through June 2020, Beltran, Mondragon and others transported multiple groups of undocumented aliens from Rio Grande City north toward Laredo for the anticipated final destination of Houston. The Beltran smuggling organization housed the undocumented aliens at a ranch in Rio Grande City until additional members of the organization would then transport the undocumented aliens north.

Both Beltran and Mondragon would drive down from Houston, coordinate with the drivers, scout the area for law enforcement and accompany the transport drivers back north in tandem. The Beltran smuggling organization would typically transport the aliens in the bed of trucks through private ranch roads in an effort to circumvent the Border Patrol (BP) checkpoints.

The jury heard evidence of a rollover accident caused during a transport event which resulted in serious injury to one of the aliens.

Through the course of the investigation, law enforcement apprehended over 100 undocumented aliens attributable to the organization. 

At trial, Beltran and Mondragon attempted to convince the jury they just happen to be in the area of the smuggling events each and every time. The jury did not believe the defense claims and found them guilty as charged.

Beltran and Mondragon have both been and will remain in custody pending transfer to U.S. Bureau of Prisons facilities to be determined in the near future.

Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation with the assistance of BP and Starr County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Laura Garcia and Matthew Phelps prosecuted the case.

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