Man pleads guilty to human smuggling - Brownsville Herald: News

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Man pleads guilty to human smuggling

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Posted: Thursday, March 28, 2013 10:18 pm

Just one week after pleading not guilty to four counts relating to human smuggling, a Houston man changed his mind and entered a guilty plea, court documents show.

Pedro Piedra, 23, entered his guilty plea Wednesday before U.S. Magistrate Felix Recio. He originally had entered a not guilty plea, court documents show.

Piedra was arrested Feb. 25 after law enforcement agents raided an alleged stash house on the 1200 block of Squaw Valley in Brownsville. Investigators found 90 undocumented immigrants in and around the residence, court documents show.

Authorities said the stash house was one of the largest in recent memory in Cameron County, and since then, agents have raided several smaller stash houses.

“This is the first in awhile that we’ve seen of this magnitude,” U.S. Border Patrol spokesman Henry Mendiola said shortly after the bust.

There were 39 Mexicans and 52 people of other nationalities at the house, he said at the time.

As part of the plea agreement, Piedra will accept the allegation that he transported aliens into the United States, and the government at sentencing will drop other counts against him, court documents show.

The government also agreed to recommend sentencing at the low end of federal sentencing guideline levels.

Piedra faces a maximum term of 5 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000 and a period of supervised release not to exceed 3 years, court documents show.

To receive the agreement, Piedra agrees to cooperate with the government if he is called as a witness before a grand jury or any other judicial proceeding, court documents show.

Piedra will be sentenced later this year.

mreagan@brownsvilleherald.com

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