Federal Jury Convicts Two Albuquerque Residents for Conspiracy to Transport Illegal Aliens
|U.S. Attorney’s Office April 18, 2013|
ALBUQUERQUE—This afternoon, a federal jury sitting in Albuquerque, New Mexico, convicted Maria Leticia Gutierrez de Lopez, 62, and Jesus Cabral Ramirez, 44, for conspiring to transport illegal aliens after a three-day trial. Cabral Ramirez also was convicted of transporting an illegal alien. The jury’s verdict was announced by U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales, Special Agent in Charge Carol K.O. Lee of the Albuquerque Division of the FBI, and Chief Patrol Agent Scott A. Luck, El Paso Sector, U.S. Border Patrol.
In May 2012, Gutierrez de Lopez and Cabral Ramirez, both legal permanent residents from Mexico who reside in Albuquerque, were charged in a three-count indictment. Count one of the indictment charged Gutierrez de Lopez and Cabral Ramirez with conspiring to transport illegal aliens in November 2011, and counts two and three each charged Cabral Ramirez with transporting an illegal alien.
Trial of the case began on April 16, 2013, and concluded this afternoon when the jury returned a guilty verdict as to both Gutierrez de Lopez and Cabral Ramirez on count one of the indictment. The jury also returned a guilty verdict against Cabral Ramirez on count two but acquitted him on count three.
The evidence at trial established that, in fall 2011, the FBI obtained information about Cabral Ramirez’s alien smuggling activities. The agents used the information to initiate a covert investigation into Cabral Ramirez during which they recorded telephone conversations relating to alien smuggling. Through the recorded conversations of Cabral Ramirez and others, the FBI learned that Gutierrez de Lopez was facilitating and organizing the transportation of an alien from El Paso to Denver, Colorado. Cabral Ramirez knew Gutierrez de Lopez and agreed to transport the alien from Albuquerque to Denver. Gutierrez de Lopez arranged to receive the payment for transporting the alien through wire transfer at an Albuquerque-area Walmart, and the transaction was recorded by the store’s surveillance camera. The investigation concluded on November 22, 2011, when Gutierrez de Lopez met the person who transported the illegal alien from El Paso to Albuquerque at an Albuquerque-area restaurant and paid the transporter a $1,200 fee. Cabral Ramirez took custody of the illegal alien and started driving toward Denver, where he anticipated receiving an additional payment of $600 but was stopped by a state police officer who arrested the illegal alien.
At sentencing, Gutierrez de Lopez and Cabral Ramirez each face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. They remain on conditions of release pending their sentencing hearings, which have yet to be scheduled.
The case was investigated by the Albuquerque Field Office of the FBI and the U.S. Border Patrol with assistance from the New Mexico State Police, and it is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Norman Cairns and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Raquel Ruiz-Velez.