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Del Rio, Texas News

California Woman Sentenced to 6 Years in Prison for Leading Human Smuggling Operation in Del Rio

In a federal court in Del Rio, California resident Veronica Pech, 57, was sentenced to 76 months in prison for her involvement in a human smuggling organization (HSO). Pech operated multiple stash houses in Del Rio, facilitating the harboring and transportation of approximately 500 undocumented noncitizens from January 1, 2021, to March 30, 2021.

As a leader in the organization, Pech managed the finances, covering expenses such as stash house rent, guides, load drivers, and migrants' provisions. U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested Pech on March 30, 2021, along with 35 undocumented migrants at her primary stash house. Pech pleaded guilty in November 2021 to one count of conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens and was ordered to pay a $5,000 fine in addition to her prison sentence.

Dakota Leon, 31, a co-defendant who served as a load driver for the HSO, was previously sentenced in March 2023 to 46 months for conspiracy to transport aliens. U.S. Attorney Jaime Esparza commended the U.S. Border Patrol criminal investigators for disrupting and dismantling the major human smuggling organization, operating from Del Rio to Comanche.

U.S. Border Patrol Del Rio Sector Chief Patrol Agent Robert Danley expressed pride in the law enforcement partnerships that led to the successful outcome, emphasizing the necessity of consequences to combat transnational criminal organizations. Special Agent in Charge Craig Larrabee from the HSI San Antonio Division highlighted the collaboration between HSI and Border Patrol, ensuring that the smugglers would face imprisonment for their actions.

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