- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 24, 2005

Eight members of a California-based ring suspected of bringing as many as 100 illegal aliens a month into the United States have been indicted by a federal grand jury after a two-year investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

ICE spokeswoman Jamie Zuieback said Wednesday that among those charged was the man suspected of leading the organization, Emilio Mayorales, 42, who was arrested at his Anaheim, Calif., residence.

Also under indictment is Mauro Perez, 49, proprietor of the Aero Paris travel agency in Anaheim, Ms. Zuieback said. According to the indictment, Mr. Perez obtained plane tickets for the smuggling organization’s clients, knowing the tickets were being used by illegal aliens.

“With this week’s arrests, we have dismantled a major human-smuggling network operating in Orange and San Bernardino counties,” said Kumar Kibble, an ICE agent in Orange County. “As this case shows, ICE is targeting not only the criminal networks directly responsible for the smuggling activity, but also those businesses that provide logistical support that helps further this highly lucrative illegal enterprise.”

The Department of Homeland Security, which oversees ICE, has made human-trafficking operations a priority issue. The agency’s fiscal 2006 budget adds 250 criminal investigators to better target the smuggling organizations.



Ms. Zuieback said the eight suspects were named in a five-count federal grand jury indictment handed up in U.S. District Court in Anaheim and unsealed late Tuesday, accusing them of conspiracy to transport and harbor illegal aliens. One of the defendants, Jose Luis de la Rosa-Hernandez, 34, also is charged with money laundering.

The spokeswoman said four of the eight suspects were taken into custody Tuesday morning by ICE agents in Orange County and that a fifth was arrested by ICE agents in Tucson, Ariz. Two of the accused are still being sought. The eighth suspect, she said, was arrested by U.S. Border Patrol agents in Arizona earlier on unrelated alien-smuggling charges.

ICE agents conducted searches at several California locations, including Ontario, where the smuggling ring is suspected of operating a drop house in a trailer park, Ms. Zuieback said. Investigators recovered laminating machines and other materials used to make fraudulent documents.

According to the indictment, the suspects arranged for aliens to be smuggled into the United States across the Arizona-Mexico border and taken to Southern California. After arriving in the United States, the majority of aliens were taken to drop houses in San Bernardino County, where they stayed until ringleaders made arrangements for final payment of smuggling fees or additional transportation.

Ms. Zuieback said, if convicted, the six in custody face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. The money-laundering charge, she said, carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.

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