Immigration & BorderJudicialFour South Texas Men Sentenced for Harboring Illegal Immigrants, Unaccompanied Minors

A federal judge found the men also perpetrated cruelty against the individuals they were harboring, who were from multiple countries.
January 7, 2021
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Four Texas men have been sentenced to years in federal prison for harboring and perpetrating cruelty against 104 illegal immigrants and children in South Texas.

On Monday, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas in McAllen, Judge Randy Crane sentenced Odilon Oyervides Jr. to 108 months in the federal penitentiary. He was previously ordered to serve 18 months in prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm.

The 22-year-old became the fourth man to be sentenced in the crimes, following Isaac Villarreal, 25, Juan Carlos Barrera, 28, and Gustavo Alberto Alaniz Jr., 25, all of whom were sentenced in December, according to a Justice Department press release. They had all entered guilty pleas to harboring illegal immigrants, some of whom were unaccompanied minors.

Brian Hastings, the chief patrol agent for the Rio Grande Valley Sector, decried the behavior of the four convicts and reminded the public that unlawful enterprises abuse illegal immigrants even after they reach the U.S.

“If it were not for the efforts of the federal, state and local law enforcement agencies who worked on this case these dangerous criminals would have continued harming unsuspecting illegal aliens,” Hastings said. “Criminal organizations exploit migrants throughout their journey and the abuse does not stop when they arrive in the U.S.”

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The victims were from El Salvador, Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras, and authorities discovered the individuals after a Salvadoran man escaped from the shack where the four perpetrators were harboring them and requested help from a Texas Department of Public Safety officer, who notified Customers and Border Patrol, according to court documents.

The Justice Department noted that Crane called the crimes “egregious” and made several factual findings, including that Barrera, Oyervides, Villareal, and Alaniz had harbored the victims in a shed with an open side and did not provide adequate food and water or bathroom facilities.

Assistant Special Agent in Charge Maria Michel-Manzo of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) called the sentences a “warning.”

“These men, who supported alien smuggling and alien harboring, placed their personal profit ahead of public safety and U.S. border security,” Michel-Manzo said. “The resulting lengthy prison sentences should act as a warning to others who are involved in this dangerous trade of the severe consequences of their actions.”

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Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks is a reporter for The Texan. He has coached high school competitive speech and debate and has also been involved in community theater and politics. A native Texan, Hayden served as a delegate at the Republican Party of Texas Convention in 2016. He is on track to receive a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Liberty University. In his free time, Hayden is known to take walks around the neighborhood while listening to random music on Spotify.