Two men plead guilty to unlawful transportation of illegal aliens

Published 5:09 pm Thursday, December 23, 2021

Gulfport, Miss. – Two Mexican nationals pleaded guilty to unlawful transportation of an alien within the United States (aiding and abetting), announced U.S. Attorney Darren LaMarca, Jason E. Schneider, Chief Patrol Agent of the U.S. Border Patrol’s New Orleans Sector, and Vernon Bison, Acting Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in New Orleans

According to court documents, Ricardo Ortega-Garcia, 43, and Rigoberto Montoya-Landaverde, 27, both of Mexico, were arrested on July 15, 2021, on Interstate 10 in Harrison County.  Following a U.S. Border Patrol investigation, a Border Patrol Agent conducted a vehicle stop and identified the driver as Rigoberto Montoya-Landaverde.  Montoya-Landaverde did not have a valid driver’s license, but he is a Legal Permanent Resident of the U.S. who had been living in Texas.  Ortega-Garci, the registered owner of the vehicle, was the front-seat passenger and was determined to be illegally present in the U.S.  In addition to Ortega-Garcia and Montoya-Landaverde, there were four other adult passengers in the vehicle, all of whom were illegally present in the United States.

During the on-site investigation, two of the passengers fled on foot.  While one of the fleeing passengers was apprehended by the Border Patrol, the other escaped and is still at large.  Two of the passengers (both of whom had felony criminal histories) were each separately prosecuted for unlawful return of an alien removed after conviction of a felony, and both were convicted.

Ortega-Garcia is scheduled to be sentenced on April 6, 2022, and Montoya-Landaverde is scheduled to be sentenced on April 7, 2022.  Each man faces a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.  After completing any sentence of incarceration, they are both subject to Department of Homeland Security proceedings to remove them from the United States.  A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

U.S. Attorney Darren J. LaMarca praised the investigative efforts and coordination of the Border Patrol and Homeland Security Investigations.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Stan Harris is the prosecutor for the case.