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Washington D.C.
Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Investigation Results in 4 Family Members Sentenced for Operating a Human Smuggling Organization

Four family members were sentenced on March 15 to federal prison for their roles in operating an extensive human smuggling organization (HSO). The investigation was conducted by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Del Rio along with federal and state law enforcement partners.

U.S. District Judge Alia Moses imposed the following sentences on four defendants: Eva Maria Galeas, 43, was sentenced to 180 months in prison and Lisa Marie Ortega, 25, was sentenced to 156 months in prison. Both are from San Antonio, Texas; Sandra Galeas-Mejia, 48, from Mexico was sentenced to 84 months in prison; and Norma Galeas-Mejia, 52, from Honduras, was sentenced to 78 months. Judge Moses also ordered the forfeiture of $603,593, which was discovered in a safe during the home search of Roberto Galeas-Mejia, Eva Maria Galeas and Lisa Marie Ortega. Additionally, Galeas and Ortega were assessed money judgement in the amounts of $97,668 and $21,388, respectively.

According to court documents, the four defendants were identified as co-conspirators of Roberto Galeas-Mejia, 47, of Honduras. Roberto, who is the husband to Eva, stepfather to Lisa Ortega and brother of the other two defendants, led a San Antonio-based HSO, overseeing activities that included the transportation and harboring of undocumented noncitizens and the coordination of payments. Eva, Lisa, Sandra and Norma played roles accepting and withdrawing human smuggling proceeds. Funds were funneled through the conspirators’ bank accounts and used to pay drivers and stash house operators, to rent stash houses and to further aid the HSO. Funds were also used for personal expenses such as vehicle purchases. Over the course of the investigation, HSI thwarted multiple smuggling loads and arrested numerous co-conspirators and undocumented noncitizens.

Eva, Lisa, and Sandra were arrested in San Antonio on June 11, 2019. Norma was arrested June 17, 2019, in Houston. On July 27, 2022, a federal jury found Roberto, Eva and Lisa guilty of all three counts of a superseding indictment: conspiracy to transport illegal migrants, conspiracy to harbor illegal migrants and conspiracy to launder monetary instruments. Sandra and Norma pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to transport illegal aliens.

“These defendants, along with Roberto Galeas-Mejia, built a family enterprise through human smuggling operations,” said U.S. Attorney Jaime Esparza for the Western District of Texas. “Thanks to our federal partners at HSI and Border Patrol, along with our state and local law enforcement partners, the Galeas human smuggling business ultimately failed. All five members of the family will serve extensive federal prison sentences, joining many of their co-conspirators after several years of apprehensions and disruption to their efforts.”

“This sentencing is a great example of how HSI uses its agency partnerships to bring criminals to justice in the United States,” said HSI San Antonio Special Agent in Charge Craig Larrabee. “The defendants in this case put our national security at risk by illegally bringing people to the United States without any inspection. HSI is committed to combating this type of crime throughout the border.”

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Homeland Security Today
The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.
Homeland Security Today
Homeland Security Todayhttp://www.hstoday.us
The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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