South Texas couple convicted for their role in harboring nearly 100 noncitizens at local hotel

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September 2, 2021McAllen, TX, United StatesHuman Smuggling/Trafficking

MCALLEN, Texas – A South Texas couple were convicted Sept. 2 for conspiring to harbor nearly 100 noncitizens, following an investigation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Pharr and San Juan Police departments assisted in the investigation.

Issac Livan Martinez, 23 and Gina Alexandria Guzman, 26, both from San Juan, Texas were charged with conspiracy and harboring noncitizens at a hotel in Pharr, Texas.

According to court documents, on May 13, HSI along with local police arrived at the hotel for an unrelated investigation. However, hotel staff informed them that they suspected several noncitizens were being housed in various hotel rooms. HSI learned that the couple had rented several hotel rooms, where they discovered 50 noncitizens, including unaccompanied minors. HSI special agents reviewed hotel surveillance footage and observed Martinez and Guzman picking up and dropping off the noncitizens at the hotel in a stolen U-Haul truck.

On June 28, local police apprehended Martinez after a traffic stop. At that time, they observed bulk food and water commonly used during smuggling activity. Martinez provided consent to search his residence in San Juan where authorities discovered 45 noncitizens, including several unaccompanied minors.

Some of the harbored individuals identified both Martinez and Guzman as caretakers at the Pharr hotel and the house in San Juan.

The couple is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 30. At that time, Martinez and Guzman could face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 maximum fine. Both have been and will remain in custody pending that hearing.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Redavid, of the Southern District of Texas, is prosecuting the case.

HSI is a directorate of ICE and the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel and finance move.

HSI’s workforce of over 10,400 employees consists of more than 7,100 Special Agents assigned to 220 cities throughout the United States, and 80 overseas locations in 53 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.

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