Human Smuggling Ringleader Sentenced to 5 Years in Prison

Human Smuggling Ringleader Sentenced to 5 Years in Prison

A warning sign for smuggling near the United States-Mexico border in San Diego, Calif., on Oct. 31, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

City News Service

City News Service

4/12/2024

Updated: 4/12/2024

SAN DIEGO—The leader of a “prolific” human smuggling organization that also employed his adult children and brought hundreds of migrants into the United States was sentenced April 12 to five years in prison.
San Diego federal prosecutors say Luis Antonio Mendez-Brahan, 59, ran a smuggling organization for nearly a decade that charged migrants between $6,000 and $8,000 each to be smuggled across the border.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said financial transactions conducted by Mr. Mendez-Brahan’s children in the United States were tracked to money service businesses in Tijuana, which led law enforcement to Mr. Mendez-Brahan.
Three of his children pleaded guilty and have been sentenced for roles in their father’s smuggling operation.
Mr. Mendez-Brahan was indicted by a grand jury in 2019, but was at large at the time. He was extradited to San Diego last year.
Mr. Mendez-Brahan’s defense attorney, Matthew Binninger, wrote in sentencing papers that his client got involved in the smuggling offenses in order to raise money to pay for surgery that his mother needed.
“He realizes now that this is no excuse for his actions,” Mr. Binninger wrote. “He is truly sorry for having committed this offense and for involving his children in his crimes.”
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