Jury finds two Guatemalan men guilty for alien smuggling
Web Producer: Taylor Higgins
PHOENIX (KGUN9-TV) - A federal jury found two men guilty on multiple charges involving an alien smuggling operation.
Domingo Agustin-Simon and Leonardo Rabanales-Casia, both of Guatemala, were found guilty of conspiracy to commit hostage taking, hostage taking, bringing in illegal aliens for profit, and harboring illegal aliens for profit in a Phoenix courtroom Thursday, according to Bill Solomon from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Arizona.
Agustin-Simon was also found guilty of brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.
Solomon tells KGUN9 that during the trial, which lasted 10 days, evidence showed Agustin-Simon and Rabanales-Casia took part in an alien smuggling operation in which illegal aliens were brought in to the U.S. and harbored at a drop house in Mesa, Ariz.
The investigation into the operation involved law enforcement from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations, the Arizona Department of Public Safety, and the Phoenix Police Department. During a raid of the drop house, agents found more than 40 illegal aliens inside the home.
Testimony at trial revealed that the smugglers threatened the aliens with physical harm and death and told the family members that the aliens would be harmed or killed if payments were not made. The women in the house were subject to sexual molestation and evidence showed that Agustin-Simon raped one of the women, Solomon says.
According to Solomon, the maximum penalty that could be imposed as a result of this conviction is life in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both.