PHOENIX – Jose Contreras-Rangel, 40, of Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico, was found guilty by a federal jury on May 22, 2009, of Harboring Illegal Aliens and Conspiracy to Harbor Illegal Aliens. Contreras-Rangel previously pleaded guilty to re-entry after deportation on May 15, 2009. Both the plea hearing and the trial were held before U.S. District Judge James A. Teilborg. Contreras-Rangel remains in federal custody pending sentencing which is set for August 17, 2009, at 3 p.m.
The evidence at trial showed that Contreras-Rangel illegally crossed into the U.S. and was taken to a stash house in Phoenix on April 27, 2008. Upon his arrival at the house, Contreras-Rangel made an agreement with other smugglers to harbor aliens. The other undocumented aliens were stripped of their clothing and held at gunpoint in one of two bedrooms on the second floor of the residence. While at the house, some of the harbored aliens were slapped or pistol-whipped. On April 30, 2008, a harbored alien was able to escape by jumping from a second story balcony. That alien fled to a nearby gas station and contacted the Phoenix Police Department. Officers located the house and rescued the remaining aliens held there.
A conviction for Conspiracy to Harbor Illegal Aliens carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine or both. A conviction for harboring illegal aliens has a five year maximum penalty, a $250,000 fine or both. In determining an actual sentence, Judge Teilborg will consult the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide appropriate sentencing ranges. The judge, however, is not bound by those guidelines in determining a sentence.
The investigation leading to the guilty verdict was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Phoenix Police Department. The prosecution was handled by Lisa Jennis Settel and Walter Perkel, Assistant U.S. Attorneys, District of Arizona, Phoenix.
CASE NUMBER: CR-08-520-PHX-JAT
RELEASE NUMBER: 2009-170(Contreras-Rangel)
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