Liudmila Roblero-Chavez, 34, of Agua Prieta, Mexico, was sentenced Feb. 13 by U.S. District Judge James A. Teilborg to three and one half years in prison while her husband and co-defendant, Abad Estudillo-Venegas, was sentenced to 42 months in prison on Dec. 8, 2011, after pleading guilty to the same charges.
“This couple gambled by trying to take advantage of our country’s border crossing system,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Ann Birmingham Scheel. “That gamble cost them over three years in prison.”
“This case is another example of the greed and exploitation that exists in the human smuggling trade,” said Matt Allen, special agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Arizona. “Parents who contract with smuggling groups should know that they do so at great potential risk. They are essentially placing the fate of their children in the hands of criminals who value personal profit over child welfare.”
According to the couples’ plea agreements, in Nov., 2010, they brought a juvenile female into the United States through the Port of Entry at Agua Prieta, Mexico, knowing that she was not a United States citizen. In order to facilitate the young girl’s entry into the United States, the couple gave her a border crossing card belonging to one of their four daughters and had her memorize the information on the card, which included their names and their daughter’s name.
At the time of her arrest, Roblero-Chavez indicated that she had crossed 40-50 undocumented girls into the United States over the last year for a fee of $500 per girl. On each occasion, she indicated, the couple left the unaccompanied juvenile female at a store with a woman the girl did not know.
When sentencing Roblero-Chavez, Judge Teilborg stated, “Trafficking in human cargo is a particularly egregious activity and carries with it huge risks, definitely having a terrorizing effect on its victims and is obviously done for profit.”
The investigation in this case was conducted U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations, Customs and Border Protection, and the Phoenix Police Department. The prosecution was handled by Lisa Jennis Settel, Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Arizona, Phoenix.