The U.S. Border Patrol and the United States Attorney Office for the District of Vermont announced today that three individuals have been charged in connection with a fifteen-person human smuggling attempt in Derby, Vermont. Hector Ramon Perez-Alvarado, 25, a Honduran citizen, has been charged with transporting illegal aliens inside the United States. As part of the investigation, the U.S. Border Patrol took into custody of a total of sixteen illegal aliens, including Hector Ramon Perez-Alvarado, the alleged driver. Eleven of the illegal aliens are Guatemalan citizens and four are Mexican.
According to Court records, in addition to the smuggling charge against Hector Ramon Perez-Alvarado, two persons were charged with re-entering the United States after previously being removed. Specifically, the United States alleges that Noe Perez-Ramirez, 33, of Mexico, and Alberto Alvarado-Castro, 29, of Mexico both were removed from the United States on multiple prior occasions. In support of its motion for detention, the Government further alleged that Alvarado-Castro has multiple prior felony burglary convictions in the United States.
On the evening of October 7, 2017, the U.S. Border Patrol agents identified a Nissan van, with a license plate not affiliated with any state, making multiple trips from Beebe Road near the Canadian Border to the Four Seasons Motel in Derby, Vermont. Additional Border Patrol agents stationed in the vicinity spotted several male subjects on foot heading south from the border in the same area indicating a possible smuggling attempt.
Just after midnight on October 8, 2017, Border Patrol agents pulled the van over in the motel parking lot and questioned the driver, Hector Ramon Perez-Alvarado, who had no legal status in the United States. The van also contained six passengers, none of whom had legal status in the United States.
The driver, Hector Ramon Perez-Alvarado, gave the Border Patrol agents the key to his motel room at the Four Seasons and requested that the agents recover his personal items. When Border Patrol agents entered the motel room, they found nine additional persons, none of whom had legal status in the United States.
The complaints filed in this case are accusations only and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. If Hector Ramon Perez-Alvarado is convicted of transporting illegal aliens, he faces a maximum sentence of five years, potentially for each alien transported, and a $250,000 fine, potentially for each person smuggled. If Noe Perez-Ramirez and Alberto Alvarado-Castro are convicted of re-entry after removal from the United States, they each face a maximum sentence of two years and a $250,000 fine. If convicted the actual sentences of the defendants will be advised by the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.
Hector Ramon Perez-Alvarado, Noe Perez-Ramirez and Alberto Alvarado-Castro all appeared in United States District Court in Burlington, Vermont today for an initial appearance. On the Government’s motion for pre-trial detention, Magistrate-Judge John M. Conroy ordered that all three be detained pending trial and remanded them into the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.
This matter is being investigated by the United States Border Patrol and Homeland Security Investigations. “This case is an excellent example of the dedication and hard work put forth by Border Patrol agents to keep our country and communities safe,” said U.S. Border Patrol Swanton Sector Chief Patrol Agent John Pfeifer. “Our agents did an outstanding job thwarting this smuggling attempt.”
The Assistant U.S. Attorney prosecuting this matter is Joe Perella. Elizabeth Quinn, Esq., of the Federal Public Defender’s Office represents Perez-Alvarado. David Watts, Esq., of Burlington represents Alvarado-Castro. Robert Sussman, Esq., of Burlington represents Perez-Ramirez.
The Swanton Sector is responsible for securing the land border between ports of entry in Vermont, New Hampshire and northeastern New York. The assistance of citizens is invaluable to their border security mission and they welcome community members to help them keep our nation’s borders safe and report suspicious activity at 1-800-689-3362.