4 Wharton residents sentenced for smuggling illegal immigrants

Nov. 18, 2012 at 5:18 a.m.

CORPUS CHRISTI - Four Wharton residents are in prison for harboring and transporting illegal immigrants, U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson has announced.

U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack sentenced Armando Olmedo-Trevino, 47, the suspected leader of the group, to 10 years in prison.

Ricky Garibaldi, 46, and John Castillo Jr., 31, were sentenced to 60 and 65 months, respectively.

Maria Herrera, 34, also of Wharton, was given a 57-month sentence Wednesday.

Officials said Olmedo-Trevino and others engaged in a conspiracy to harbor and transport illegal immigrants from Aug. 9, 2002, until his arrest Jan. 27.

Authorities said the group, which may have transported up to 400 illegal immigrants during its 10-year operation, picked up five at a time in the Edinburg area and eluded U.S. Border Patrol checkpoints in Falfurrias or Sarita by hiding them underneath blankets or luggage between the seats of SUVs or minivans.

Officials said Olmedo-Trevino and others modified a trailer in June 2011 with a false compartment to conceal up to 15 illegal immigrants.

To date, 31 others have been sentenced in the case, said public affairs officer Angela Dodge. They include Petronilo Sanchez-Jimenez, 43, Norma Leticia Silva-Garcia, 39, and Sandro Alvarez-Maldonado, 35, all of Edinburg; Oscar Garza-Perales, 28, of Wharton; and Tracy Howard, 48, and Christian Russo, 40, both of Houston.

The rest who have been sentenced so far have received sentences ranging from probation to 87 months for their various roles in the conspiracy, Dodge said.



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