Man sentenced in human smuggling case

A man involved in a Lower Valley-based human smuggling operation was sentenced to more than 400 days in federal prison by a federal judge in Brownsville.

In proceedings held before U.S. District Judge Fernando Rodriguez, Jr. last week, Guadalupe Mancha-Sanchez pleaded guilty to two counts of a superseding indictment through his attorney, via a signed waiver of appearance.

On Aug. 6, Rodriguez sentenced Mancha-Sanchez to 415 days in federal custody, with credit for time-served and the sentence to run concurrently on each count. Mancha-Sanchez will face a three-year period of supervised release.

According to court records, Sanchez is a Mexican national and may face deportation once released.

The original charges were brought in 2017 against Mancha-Sanchez, Ismael De Jesus-Flores, Dora Alicia Castro, Grace Mariel Mancha, and Eloisa Silva. The group faced multiple counts related to allegedly transporting and harboring undocumented individuals and laundering the proceeds.

According to court filings, De Jesus-Flores allegedly served as the organizer of the operation. Mancha-Sanchez faced a count of conspiracy to transport/harbor aliens, two counts of transporting aliens, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, one count of money laundering by concealing/disguising, and one count of operation of unlicensed money transmitting business.

The indictment stated that defendants opened or maintained bank accounts to receive smuggling fees. Mancha-Sanchez and others would then “cause others to deposit and electronically wire money for alien smuggling fees through MoneyGram and Western Union, and thereafter, withdraw said money for delivery to Ismael De Jesus-Flores,” according to the document.

The document accused Mancha-Sanchez of transporting two undocumented individuals near the Sarita Checkpoint and in Brownsville by motor vehicle.

Profits collected through the operation subject to government forfeiture totaled $922,351 over the course of two years, according to prosecutors.