A Guatemalan native has pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Baltimore to transporting 41 illegal aliens from Arizona to Maryland in a crowded van.
Israel Perez-Herrera, 35, was aided in the scheme by two Mexican natives, who pleaded guilty at an earlier date, said Lynne A. Battaglia, Maryland’s U.S. attorney.
Each of the men faces a maximum sentence of five years in jail without parole and a $250,000 fine. After completing their sentences, they will be deported, court documents said.
Perez-Herrera’s attorney, Shirley Watts, could not be reached for comment.
Court records said Perez-Herrera recruited the aliens in Arizona and charged them up to $500 for the trip to the Eastern Shore of Maryland, where they were to seek employment.
The group of illegal aliens, ranging in age from 13 to 45, boarded a Ryder rental truck in February for a two-day journey from Chandler, Ariz., to Marydel, Md., their intended destination, court documents said.
The 2,000-mile journey ended Feb. 5 at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge when the truck, driven by one of Perez-Herrera’s Mexican accomplices, collided with a car at the toll booth.
“For Baltimore, this is quite unusual,” said Ben Ferro, director of the Maryland district of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. “It’s not typically the kind of numbers of illegal immigrants we see.”
The Eastern Shore has long been a magnet for illegal immigrants headed for the area’s poultry processing plants in search of jobs, Ferro said.
Perez-Herrera was aided by Hermelindo Velasquez-Rivera, 18, and Luis Alberto Hernandez-Herrera, 22, court records state. Sentencing for the three has been scheduled for May 3. About half of the illegals taken into INS custody in February have had hearings and are awaiting deportation, Ferro said. The remainder are expected to appear for deportation hearings within the next month, he said. -30-