Posts tagged ‘illegal immigrants’

Rescue turns into $6 million cocaine bust

BY VANESSA C. DEGGINS

After answering a distress call last month, the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office found $6 million worth of cocaine stashed on an island west of Graywood golf course, said Sheriff Tony Mancuso.

On Jan. 16, two men called 911, saying they needed to be rescued from an island, Mancuso said.

Marine Division deputies were reportedly able to locate Carlos Hurtado-Valois, 30, of Venezuela, and Felipe Gonzales Valencia, 47, of Columbia, using their cell phones’ GPS coordinates.

Deputies discovered one man losing consciousness and had an ambulance waiting at Prien Lake Park, Mancuso said. The men — both illegal immigrants — were turned over to U.S. Customs and Border agents.

Hurtado-Valois has been charged in federal court with entry without inspection, and Valencia is charged with illegal re-entry without inspection.

Federal agents said Valencia has been previously convicted of drug smuggling and has been deported three times.

Deputies returned to the island to search the area and reportedly found life jackets and rope. After following footprints, they found eight duffel bags containing 176 kilograms of cocaine, Mancuso said.

He said the cocaine was vacuum-sealed and taped together and that bunches were in a second sealed plastic bag.

“We could not determine the final destination of the drugs or who the men were working for,” Mancuso said.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement has since taken over the investigation. Federal court records show one affidavit related to Hurtado-Valois.

According to an affidavit, Hurtado said he stowed away on a ship in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela, and stayed until it docked near Lake Charles. He said he jumped into the water and swam to the nearest land mass and stayed there for one night.

link: http://bit.ly/ah2KVH

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February 5, 2010 at 4:04 pm Leave a comment

Time of essence in case

*published Dec. 1, 2009


Immigration issue clouds outlook in slaying of teen
BY VANESSA C. DEGGINS
Setbacks at every step have slowed the investigation into the death of Moss Bluff woman Sierra Bouzigard, Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso said Monday.

“It took us 12 hours to identify the body,” he said. “That was 12 hours where we didn’t have a direction to go, didn’t know who to speak to first.”

The body of Bouzigard, 19, was found at 7:40 a.m. Nov. 23 on the side of John Koonce Road in Moss Bluff. Parish Coroner Dr. Terry Welke has ruled that she died of blunt force trauma to the head.

Since last Monday, Mancuso said detectives have talked to 22 people who may have known or had contact with Bouzigard.

“It appears she made several visits to different people in the Moss Bluff area on Sunday,” Mancuso said.

He said much of the case hinges on crime lab results and phone records from several of the people investigators have interviewed.

“The phone companies have told us that they can get us the records within 14 days,” Mancuso said. “We want the records to corroborate some stories and hopefully figure out where she was last.”

He would not discuss the possibility that another area had been checked for evidence.

“Because we’re dealing with the real world, we need people to understand that it will take time to get results back from our crime lab,” Mancuso said.

On average, results can take from two weeks to 30 days to process because of certain procedures and the requirement that the results be verified by multiple forensic specialists.

Of the people interviewed in the case, 16 were illegal immigrants.

Calcasieu Correctional Center book-in records show they were arrested on Nov. 25 and lived in two apartments on Sistrick Road, off Sam Houston Jones Parkway.

Detectives said two Sheriff’s Office interpreters worked around the clock, with a federal interpreter, to handle the interviews.

Because detectives had filed no local charges, the immigrants were turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and are now at a federal detention center in Basile.

They are charged with entry without inspection — a federal misdemeanor.

Mancuso said their immigration status is an issue because the Sheriff’s Office does not have jurisdiction over illegal immigrants.

Deportation proceedings have begun, and processing will reportedly take about a month.

“I can’t promise we will have enough by then,” Mancuso said.

If one of the deported immigrants becomes a suspect, Mancuso said his department would have to issue an arrest warrant.

“It is a problems for us,” he said. “He would have to be located there, and then we would need that country’s government to cooperate.”

He noted that a rape-homicide case remains open because of a similar situation.

On Feb. 19, 2008, the body of Wanda Barton, 26, was found in her mobile home.

Deputies listed 20-year-old Jose Manuel Garcia Guevara as a person of interest and said they believed he fled to Dallas and then back to his hometown of Rioverde, San Luis Potosi, Mexico.

In April 2008, a grand jury indicted Garcia Guevara on charges of second-degree murder, aggravated rape and aggravated burglary. He is still at large.

Mancuso would not say how Bouzigard was connected with any of the people detectives interviewed.

He said there are no suspects at this time, only persons of interest, and that no charges have been filed in the case.

“We still have a long ways to go in this investigation,” Mancuso said.

link: http://bit.ly/6czQWm

December 1, 2009 at 6:11 pm Leave a comment

Sulphur women sentenced for conspiracy to transport illegal immigrants in Texas

published Oct. 30, 2009

BY VANESSA C. DEGGINS
Three Sulphur women were sentenced in U.S. District Court on Thursday on charges of conspiracy to transport illegal immigrants.

Carolyn Joyce Metcalf was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison and three years’ probation; Terri Lynn Fields was sentenced to two years and three months in prison and three years’ probation; and Jean Morgan Vincent was sentenced to three years’ probation.

The maximum penalty is five years in prison.

According to court documents, the women were recruited by Joan R. Comeaux, also of Sulphur, to take illegal immigrants from the southern Texas border to other locations within Texas.

About a dozen trips reportedly took place between 2005 and 2007.

Comeaux, along with one or more of the three women, would drive to Harlingen, Texas, to coordinate with drivers who did the actual transporting of illegal immigrants.

On average, Comeaux paid the women $500 for each trip.

Metcalf said she and Fields made the trips without Comeaux at least five times in nine months.

During those trips, they drove to Houston in a personal vehicle, rented a different vehicle, and took three to eight immigrants from Harlingen to Houston.

Comeaux is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 10.

October 30, 2009 at 10:07 am Leave a comment