ALBUQUERQUE, NM - A federal jury sitting in Las Cruces, N.M., found Jose Luis Zamora, 25, a legal permanent resident residing in Rincon, N.M., guilty on an indictment charging him with conspiracy and transporting undocumented immigrants. The guilty verdict was announced by Acting U.S. Attorney James D. Tierney, Acting Special Agent in Charge Jack P. Staton of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in El Paso, and El Paso Sector Chief Border Agent Jeffrey D. Self of the U.S. Border Patrol.
Zamora was arrested on Feb. 14, 2017, on a criminal complaint charging him with conspiracy to transport undocumented immigrants. He subsequently was indicted on April 19, 2017, and charged with conspiracy and three counts of transporting undocumented immigrants. Zamora's trial began on Sept. 11, 2017, and concluded late yesterday afternoon when the jury returned a guilty verdict on all four counts of the indictment.
The evidence at trial established that on Feb. 11, 2017, U.S. Border Patrol agents encountered seven individuals who were attempting to circumvent the U.S. Border Patrol Checkpoint on Highway 185 in Dona Ana County, N.M. The agents arrested the seven individuals after determining that they were undocumented immigrants. Three of the undocumented immigrants testified during the trial, stating that Zamora picked them up near the border in El Paso, Tex., after they were smuggled into the United States from Juarez, Mexico, on Feb. 8, 2017. They admitted paying $1,500, $4,000 and $4,500, respectively, to be smuggled into the United States.
The undocumented immigrants testified that they crossed the border into the United States, Zamora picked them up in a van, and drove them to a trailer and later to a hotel in Las Cruces where they stayed for two days. On Feb. 11, 2017, Zamora drove the undocumented immigrants north on Interstate 25 before pulling off the road before the U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint. Zamora instructed them to walk around the U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint so they would not be detected, telling them that he would pick them up in two hours. Border Patrol agents arrested the undocumented immigrants as they were walking around the checkpoint to meet Zamora.
The jury deliberated approximately one hour before returning its guilty verdict.
Zamora has been in federal custody since his arrest and remains in federal custody pending a sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled. At sentencing, Zamora faces a statutory maximum penalty of ten years in federal prison.