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HSI Douglas investigation leads to 78-month sentence for human smuggling stash house coordinator

Human RightsHSI Douglas investigation leads to 78-month sentence for human smuggling stash house coordinator

TUCSON, Ariz. — A Mexican national, the final defendant involved in a human smuggling stash house case, was sentenced April 21 to 78 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Phoenix Police Department investigated the case.

Angelico Roa-Joachin, 43, of Mexico, was convicted of conspiracy to transport and harbor illegal aliens for profit and reentry of a removed alien.

A federal judge sentenced three of Roa-Joachin’s co-conspirators in 2022. Rafael Hernandez-Garcia, 35, of Mexico, was also sentenced to 78 months in federal prison; Luis Alberto Calixto-Pegueros, 25, and Alexis Mejia-Zamora, 26, both of Mexico, were sentenced to 37 months and 27 months, respectively, for their roles in the conspiracy.

On April 22, 2021, HSI agents executed a search warrant at two human smuggling stash houses in Phoenix and apprehended Roa-Joachin, Hernandez-Garcia, Calixto-Pegueros and Mejia-Zamora, along with over 30 undocumented noncitizens. Agents seized firearms, cash and ledgers detailing smuggling activities. The HSI investigation revealed that the organization regularly moved hundreds of undocumented noncitizens through the two stash houses, often holding them in overcrowded conditions and not permitting them to leave until their families or sponsors paid the smuggling organization for their release. Roa-Joachin, Hernandez-Garcia and Calixto-Pegueros sexually coerced or sexually assaulted at least one female noncitizen they were holding at a stash house, which resulted in a sentence enhancement.

“These sentences are a result of the unwavering commitment and countless hours HSI special agents and our partners spent on investigating these violent human smugglers,” said HSI Arizona Special Agent in Charge Scott Brown. “People who think paying a human smuggler money will keep them out of harm’s way as they journey north are sadly mistaken — case in point. Human smugglers are greedy, careless and often violent people. Let there be no question, HSI will investigate anyone involved in this atrocious activity and ensure they are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

This prosecution resulted from the coordinated efforts of Joint Task Force Alpha (JTFA). The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona is part of JTFA, which was established by Attorney General Merrick B. Garland in June 2021 to marshal the investigative and prosecutorial resources of the Department of Justice, in partnership with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), to enhance U.S. enforcement efforts against the most prolific and dangerous human smuggling and trafficking groups operating in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. The Task Force focuses on disrupting and dismantling smuggling and trafficking networks that abuse, exploit, or endanger migrants, pose national security threats, and are involved in organized crime.

The United States Attorney’s Office for District of Arizona in Tucson prosecuted the case.

HSI is the principal investigative arm of DHS, responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move. HSI’s workforce of more than 8,700 employees consists of more than 6,000 special agents assigned to 237 cities throughout the United States, and 93 overseas locations in 56 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are independent views solely of the author(s) expressed in their private capacity.

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