Saturday, April 9, 2011

Fwd: AZMEX UPDATE 18-12-03

Begin forwarded message:

From: Landis Aden <>
Date: March 16, 2011 5:14:52 PM MST
Subject: AZMEX UPDATE 18-12-03


Man convicted of holding 15 undocumented migrants

Robert Anglen
The Arizona Republic
Dec. 18, 2003 12:00 AM

A man who held 15 undocumented immigrants captive in a Phoenix apartment in August has been found guilty on two charges of smuggling human beings.
Luis Carlos Leon-Mendez faces 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine after a federal jury on Tuesday convicted him of harboring undocumented immigrants.
The conviction comes as federal law enforcement agencies continue to target smuggling operations and go after "coyotes," who transport undocumented immigrants across the border.
"This verdict underscores the violent nature of human smuggling," U.S. Attorney Paul Charlton said. "The rescued aliens are lucky to be alive."
Leon-Mendez was accused of helping to guard 15 Mexican nationals who were kidnapped at gunpoint from the "stash house" of another smuggler.
The immigrants, who agreed to pay $1,500 each for transport to the United States, were brought to an apartment at 4023 W. Hadley St. and told if their families did not pay that they would be left in the desert or that a limb would be cut off.
A Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigation found that the immigrants were kept for a week in one bedroom and were forced to ask permission to use the bathroom or get water. When they were discovered, some of the immigrants needed to be treated for dehydration.
Inside the apartment, agents found evidence of a smuggling operation, including wire transfer records, cellphones and a shrine erected to the smugglers' patron saint.
Leon-Mendez testified that he was not part of the smuggling ring; that he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. 
He said he met two of the smugglers in the park and they invited him to the apartment shortly before police arrived.
But immigrants testified that they had seen Leon-Mendez inside the apartment several times with three other smugglers, all of whom pleaded guilty to smuggling charges and are awaiting sentencing.
Leon-Mendez is scheduled for sentencing March 1.

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