3 Mexico citizens sentenced to time served for smuggling aliens from Canada

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GREAT FALLS — Three Mexico citizens who admitted trying to smuggle aliens across the border from Canada into Glacier County in Montana last year were sentenced this week to time served, U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme said.

Samuel Velasco-Tovar, 28, who was a foot guide, and Omero Banderas-Rodriguez, 39, who was a driver, both were sentenced on Wednesday to 158 days of time served. Alberto Guillen-Gordillo, 23, who was intended to be a driver, was sentenced today to 159 days of time served. All three defendants pleaded guilty in February to transportation of illegal aliens.

Chief U.S. District Judge Brian M. Morris presided. He referred all defendants to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for deportation proceedings.

“Human smuggling across the Canadian border is dangerous both to those who are being smuggled and to Montanans who may cross paths with the smugglers. Those who are smuggled and cannot pay the fee may be forced to work to pay it off. Those who prey on the aspirations of those from other countries wanting a better life for themselves, putting them and Montanans at risk, will be prosecuted,” U.S. Attorney Alme said.

The prosecution said in court records that on Nov. 17 at about 11:15 p.m., Border Patrol agents conducted traffic stops of two vehicles south of the United States-Canada border in Glacier County. In the first vehicle, which was a Chevrolet Suburban, the agent found the driver, Banderas-Rodriguez, and nine passengers. All of the passengers admitted to being in the United States illegally. During the stop of the second vehicle, a Chevrolet Tahoe, all of the occupants ran into a nearby field. Agents found eight people within a few minutes. Each of the individuals admitted to being in the United States illegally.