October 29, 2020

Mexican discovered in Mississippi as part of smuggling ring pleads guilty to entering U.S. illegally

An illegal Mexican alien pleaded guilty Monday to unlawful reentry after he was discovered in Mississippi in January as part of a group being smuggled into the U.S.

Marco De La Cruz-Martinez, 22, of Mexico, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Sul Ozerden to unlawful reentry by an alien after removal, authorities announced.

De La Cruz-Martinez will be sentenced by Judge Ozerden, on July 8, 2019. He faces a potential maximum penalty of two years in prison followed by one year of supervised release, and a maximum $250,000 fine. He also faces being removed from the United States following the completion of any prison sentence.

On January 28, 2019, an interdiction agent with the South Mississippi Metro Enforcement Team conducted a traffic stop on a GMC Yukon XL with South Carolina license plates on I-10 eastbound in Jackson County.

The agent observed eight occupants of the vehicle, including De La Cruz-Martinez. Border Patrol Agents arrived on the scene shortly thereafter, and interviewed the occupants of the vehicle as to their citizenships, determining that none had proper documents and all were illegally present in the United States. The occupants (2 drivers and 6 passengers) were arrested and transported to the Border Patrol Station in Gulfport.

Further investigation by Homeland Security Investigations and the Border Patrol determined that the 6 passengers were being smuggled within the United States and that De La Cruz-Martinez had previously had been ordered removed from the United States.

U.S. Attorney Hurst praised the cooperation exhibited by the Department of Homeland Security-Homeland Security Investigations, the United States Border Patrol, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, South Mississippi Metro Enforcement Team, and the City of Gautier Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Stan Harris is the prosecutor for the case.