Jim Kouri
November 15, 2006
Aliens sentenced for hostage taking and smuggling operation
By Jim Kouri

Four aliens were sentenced in connection with a hostage taking and alien smuggling operation. The suspects were arrest on June 26 in Austin, Texas.

Fernando Lopez-Ugarte, 21, a citizen of Mexico, was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison. On Aug. 31, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit hostage taking and conspiracy to smuggle aliens.

Ramiro Garduno-Sanchez, 27, a Mexican national, was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison. On Aug. 31, Garduno-Sanchez pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit hostage taking and conspiracy to smuggle aliens.

Juan Barcenas-Avila, 44, citizen of Mexico, was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison. On Aug. 31, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to smuggle aliens and illegal reentry after deportation.

Lidia Magaly Vividor-Coronado, 27, citizen of Guatemala, received time served for her participation in the smuggling venture. She is in ICE custody pending removal from the United States. On Aug. 31, she pleaded guilty to misprison of a felony.

"The circumstances involved in this case dealt with violence, gunplay, and hostage taking which are a common practice in the human smuggling trade," said Jerry Robinette, special agent-in-charge for the Immigration & Customs Enforcement's Office of Investigations in San Antonio.

"ICE will continue to use every available enforcement tool to bring these smugglers to justice."

On June 26, Austin Police Department (APD) responded to a 9-1-1 call from a residence located on Newmont Road in Austin. When authorities arrived, a Honduran couple who had escaped from a stash house (where smuggled aliens are temporarily staged) in that neighborhood made claims that they were held against their will and threatened with a gun.

They also said there were 12 others being held at the same location. At this time, ICE agents were called by the local police to respond to the scene. Upon ICE's arrival, the Austin SWAT team arrived and secured the scene.

After a few hours, hostage negotiators talked everyone out of the house except for two. Both Ramiro Garduno-Sanchez and Juan Barcenas-Avila had already left the scene to go after the couple who had escaped. Police officers later caught up with Sanchez and Barcenas who were arrested and taken into custody.

© Jim Kouri


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Jim Kouri

Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police... (more)


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