McALLEN — A Mexican national who is in the country illegally was given a 33-month prison sentence last week, court records show.
U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez handed down the sentence to San Juan resident Andres Alberto Escamilla-Alvarado, 32, who was found harboring more than 20 immigrants in a stash house he operated. The immigrants were determined to be in the country without legal status.
Information from U.S. Border Patrol agents at the Kingsville Border Patrol station led agents to the suspected stash house at a San Juan residence and subsequently began surveillance there beginning April 17.
“… Agents conducted surveillance at the residence and observed a white extended cab Chevrolet truck parked inside the property,” the complaint states. Moments later, agents observed the truck depart the residence making its way to a local car wash.
Shortly thereafter, agents saw the driver and passenger — later identified as Escamilla-Alvarado and Jose Ignacio Zelaya-Martinez, respectively — exit the truck. But as law enforcement officers and agents approached, Escamilla-Alvarado began to run away and was seen tossing his cell phone into a grassy area.
“After a short foot pursuit, Escamilla was detained,” documents show. “Agents also detained at the car wash and an additional female subject who had remained sitting in the truck.”
All three detained were determined to be in the country illegally, placed under arrest and sent to a Border Patrol processing center.
Zelaya-Martinez, during an interview, told authorities that there were up to as many as 15 undocumented persons at the aforementioned residence in San Juan. After agents entered the San Juan residence, a total of 18 more undocumented persons were found inside — brining the total, including Escamilla-Alvarado, to 21 undocumented persons in the country illegally.
A Honduran national who was found inside the home, told authorities he had paid $5,000 in U.S. currency to be smuggled into the U.S. He said the San Juan residence was the second stash house where he was temporarily housed temporarily, and claimed to have suffered abuse at the hands of Escamilla-Alvarado.
“(The man) stated he was being transported to the house, (and Escamilla-Alvarado) slapped him on the head and told him if he was caught looking around, he would hit him harder,” the complaint stated.
The Honduran man also said that Escamilla-Alvarado told him “the one in charge here is me,” and requested more money from him, took his cell phone away and “provided food and instructed him to keep the noise down.”
Escamilla-Alvarado, who was also charged with immigration violations related to not legally being in the country with authorization, will serve a concurrent 33-month sentence, court records show, and will likely be deported upon completion of his prison term.