A Sells man and woman were sentenced to prison Monday for their involvement in harboring migrants for profit.
U.S. District Judge Rosemary Marquez sentenced Johnson Ortiz, 23, to six years and eight months in prison and Regina Ramon, 29, to five years in prison after they pleaded guilty in September 2019 to keeping undocumented immigrants in their home and asking them to pay to be smuggled further into the U.S., the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a news release.
In March 2019, an undocumented immigrant was walking in the Tohono O’Odham Reservation in Sells when people in a red SUV asked what he was doing on the road. The migrant asked the people for help and to be taken to a hospital, the attorney’s office said.
The people agreed to take the migrant to a hospital but instead took him to Ortiz and Ramon’s house, where he was asked who would pay for his transportation further into the U.S.
Ortiz also pleaded guilty to endangerment enhancement. He robbed the migrant at knifepoint, taking his wallet, cell phone and identification, the news release said.
Two days after arriving at Ortiz and Ramon’s house, the migrant escaped through a window and a Tohono O’odham officer found him and took him to a hospital.
Homeland Security Investigations agents met with the migrant and obtained a search warrant for Ortiz and Ramon’s house.
Agents found six more migrants in the house. Each migrant said they made arrangements to be smuggled further into the U.S. and to pay once they got to their destination, the news release said.
Contact reporter Stephanie Casanova at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @CasanovaReports