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  1. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)
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  3. Smuggler Sentenced for Conspiracy Resulting in 2 Deaths Following Investigation

Smuggler Sentenced for Conspiracy Resulting in 2 Deaths Following HSI Laredo, Federal Partner Investigation

Release Date: May 17, 2024

LAREDO, Texas — A citizen of the Dominican Republic was sentenced to federal prison for conspiracy to transport individuals within the United States resulting in death following an investigation conducted by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the U.S. Border Patrol and the U.S. Marshals Service.

Wilkin Perez-Perez, 35, was sentenced on May 16 to 135 months in federal prison. Not a U.S. citizen, he is expected to face removal proceedings following his imprisonment. At the hearing, the court heard additional evidence that Perez-Perez was involved in numerous alien smuggling events, engaged in violent conduct in- and outside the scope of this conspiracy, including the possession of a weapon, and that he fled the United States when he learned of his arrest. Perez-Perez pleaded guilty Jan. 12, 2023.

“Dismantling human smuggling networks has been a longtime focus for HSI, but for those events that have resulted in a death of a migrant our investigation intensifies,” said HSI San Antonio Special Agent in Charge Craig Larrabee. “No one should ever lose their lives at the hands of a smuggler. Together with our law enforcement partners, we will continue to identify smuggling organizations to help save the lives of people these organizations regularly prey upon.”

“‘Two bodies found along the banks of the Rio Grande,’ a tragic and all-too-often headline made possible by ruthless and reckless human smugglers like Perez-Perez and the transnational criminal organizations that employ the likes of him,” said U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani. “We will go to any lengths necessary to prosecute the leaders and members of these organizations who care only about cash and not about they humans they transport. Let this case be an example to anyone thinking about becoming a part of the deadly smuggling industry in the United States, you will be held accountable, no matter how long it takes.”

According to court documents, Perez-Perez had been in charge and managing the transportation of people into the United States as well as their harboring in the country. On Sept. 21, 2017, Melvin L. Barahona-Godoy and Yoryi Alexis Perez led several people to the Rio Grande River. Two drowned while trying to cross into the United States. Authorities discovered their bodies along the riverbank. The investigation led to Perez-Perez, who had returned to the Dominican Republic following the discovery of the deceased individuals. He was determined to be overseeing and managing the U.S. branch of the organization. He had coordinated the transportation of these and other individuals, including the two that died, into the interior of the United States and harboring them in Laredo.

Perez-Perez will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

Barahona-Godoy, 27, of Guatemala, and Yoryi Alexis Perez, 34, of the Dominican Republic, were also charged in relation to the transportation and harboring of the men and others and were later sentenced to 57 and 78 months in prison, respectively.

Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas Brandon Scott Bowling prosecuted the case.

HSI San Antonio continues to address the serious public safety threat posed by human smuggling organizations and their reckless disregard for the health and safety of the people they exploit. To report suspicious smuggling activity, you are urged to call 877-4-HSI-TIP.

Last Updated: 05/17/2024
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