U.S.: Couple from Ecuador Sentenced to prison in child smuggling operation

Posted on September 7, 2016 • Filed under: Crime, Ecuador, Human Smuggling

chron.com reported couple from Ecuador were the ringleaders of a smuggling operation that brought children into the United States, officials announced on Tuesday.

Paul Esteban Estrella Villota, 40, and his wife, Magaly Alemania Malagon Sandoya, 42, will spend six years and five years, respectively, in federal prison after their sentencing in federal court in El Paso, officials said. Read Article


Federal Grand Jury Indicts Ecuadorian Couple Arrested in Florida in Connection with an Alleged Alien Smuggling Conspiracy

In El Paso, a federal grand jury has charged an Ecuadorian couple for their alleged roles in an undocumented alien smuggling conspiracy announced United States Attorney Richard L. Durbin, Jr., and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge Waldemar Rodriguez, El Paso Division.

The federal indictment, returned on September 9, 2015, and unsealed yesterday afternoon, charges 40–year-old Paul Esteban Estrella Villota of Cuenca, Ecuador, and his 42-year-old wife Magaly Alemania, with one count of conspiracy to commit alien smuggling for financial gain resulting in bodily injury; one count of aiding and abetting bringing aliens into the United States without authorization for financial gain causing bodily injury; one count of aiding and abetting bringing aliens without authorization for financial gain; one count of conspiracy to commit alien smuggling for financial gain; and, one count of bringing aliens into the United States at a place other than a Port of Entry without authorization for financial gain.

The investigation into this smuggling organization began on November 4, 2013, after HSI El Paso special agents encountered two juveniles in a suspected stash house. According to court documents, agents learned that Estrella and Malagon were the ring leaders of an alien smuggling organization that smuggled the juveniles into the United States. Two days later, the mother of one of the young boys was arrested at Paso Del Norte Port of Entry after she tried to enter the United States as a document imposter. The entry document she presented at the border was valid, but was in the name of another person.

Court records show that the woman told HSI special agents that the man who arranged for her and her child to be smuggled into the United States was a man she met in Ecuador. The man, whom she knew as “Paul,” charged her $15,000 each to smuggle her and her child. She paid him $6,000 up front. The woman positively identified Estrella as the man to whom she paid the smuggling fee.

On November 16, 2013, United States Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Office of Border Patrol (OBP) agents encountered another national of Ecuador. This time the encounter was near Mount Cristo Rey in Sunland Park, NM. During an interview with HSI special agents, the Ecuadorian citizen identified Estrella and Malagon as the smugglers with whom he entered into an agreement to be smuggled into the United States. Court records show he agreed to pay them $14,000.

On March 16, 2014, Border Patrol agents arrested another national of Ecuador near Clint, TX, after she illegally entered into the United States. Court records allege she told HSI special agents that a woman by the name of “Magi” arranged her smuggling travels from Ecuador to the United States, even though an Ecuadorian smuggler named “Paul” originally was to bring her to the United States. Furthermore, the young girl’s father told HSI special agents on February 25, 2015, that he made arrangements to pay $14,500 to a smuggler he knew only as “Magi” to smuggle his daughter from Ecuador through Mexico into the United States.

Estrella and Alemania were arrested in Orlando, FL, on August 12, 2015. They remain in federal custody pending a detention hearing scheduled for 2:00pm on September 21, 2015, before United States Magistrate Judge Norbert Garney in El Paso.

Upon conviction, the defendants face not more than twenty years imprisonment on each of the alien smuggling charges involving bodily injury; between three and ten years imprisonment for aiding and abetting bringing aliens without authorization for financial gain; and, not more than ten years imprisonment on each of the remaining alien smuggling for financial gain charges.

Waldemar Rodriguez, special agent in charge of HSI El Paso, credited the team effort of other Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agencies locally and abroad that participated in the investigation. “HSI will not relent against human smugglers who treat people like a mere commodity,” said Rodriguez. “This case should resonate loud and clear: HSI special agents and our law enforcement partners will work tirelessly to identify, arrest and prosecute those responsible for the illegal movement of people into and through our country.”

Assistant United States Attorney Ian Hanna is prosecuting this case on behalf of the Government. ORIGINAL PRESS RELEASE OF INDICTMENT

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