By Vanessa Kahin
A citizen of Guatemala has pleaded guilty in Lubbock federal court to harboring three undocumented aliens at his Muleshoe residence.
Ricardo Suar-Gonzales’ plea was entered Tuesday and he will be sentenced at a later date.
According to an affidavit in support of the complaint, Suar-Gonzales was harboring the undocumented aliens at a residence at the 200 block of West Avenue E because the full payment of their smuggling fee had not been received.
Court documents state that, following his arrest, Suar-Gonzales admitted to agents with Homeland Security Investigations that he too was in the country illegally.
Suar-Gonzales was initially apprehended in April, when members of the Muleshoe Police Department, responding to an anonymous call, searched the man’s home.
“The call that we received (was) from an anonymous female caller,” said Leonardo Aviles, a Muleshoe patrol officer. “She said there were seven (illegal immigrants), but when we went over there to investigate, we found three.”
Lidia Gomez, also of Guatemala, was also apprehended at the home. The affidavit states Gomez and Suar-Gonzales provided food to the undocumented aliens before taking them to a storm cellar underneath the home.
The affidavit states Gomez was present when Suar-Gonzales told the undocumented aliens to go inside the cellar, and was present when Suar-Gonzales placed a padlock on the door of the cellar.
Aviles said Muleshoe police took five people into custody the day the home was searched — the three undocumented aliens, Gomez and Suar-Gonzales. Aviles said he contacted his supervisor that day, Muleshoe Lt. Benny Parker, who called Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Aviles said it was ICE agents who continued the investigation.
Suar-Gonzales and Gomez were charged with one count of harboring of illegal aliens, aiding and abetting, and were both taken into federal custody.
It is unclear from court documents what Gomez’s immigration status is. However, court documents state both defendants were offered the opportunity to speak with the Guatemalan Consulate. Suar-Gonzales accepted, Gomez declined.
Suar-Gonzales will be sentenced at a later date. The maximum penalty for harboring illegal aliens, aiding and abetting is 10 years in prison, a fine of $250,000 or twice any monetary gain to the defendant or loss to the victim(s).