Office of the United States Attorney, Dennis K. Burke
District of Arizona
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, February 14, 2011
Telephone: (602) 514-7573
Cell: (602) 740-2422
Violent Alien Smugglers Sentenced to Combined 14 years in Prison
PHOENIX – U.S. District Court Judge Susan R. Bolton on Monday sentenced Oscar
Caballero-Vergara and Faustino Chavez-Angulo each to 84 months in prison for their involvement
in a violent alien smuggling group. Caballero-Vergara and Chavez-Angulo pleaded guilty to
Possessing, Using and Carrying a Firearm During and in Relation to a Crime of Violence in Nov.
Co-defendant, Melissa Segura is scheduled to be sentenced on March 21, 2011. Another
co-defendant, Abraham Flores-Angeles, 22, a citizen of Mexico, was found guilty of Conspiracy to
Take Hostages, Hostage Taking, Harboring Illegal Aliens, and Brandishing a Firearm during and
in relation to a crime of violence, by a federal jury in Phoenix on January 11, 2011. He is currently
in custody pending sentencing which is set on April 11, 2011 before Judge Bolton.
“Alien smugglers conduct their illegal transactions with a human currency, and the results
for the victims can be violent and dehumanizing, which this case clearly demonstrates,” said U.S.
Attorney Dennis Burke. “Our office will continue to partner with ICE in finding and aggressively
prosecuting illegal alien smuggling organizations.”
In April of 2010, this group held at least 40 illegal aliens hostage at a house in Phoenix.
While being held at gunpoint, suspects tied one victim with duct tape, then kicked and beat him.
All of the aliens in the house were forced to call their families, ask for ransom money and were
threatened with death. Approximately six people escaped by jumping out a bedroom window after
which one defendant told the remaining aliens that they should not try to escape because he would
“shoot to kill.”
An anonymous tip led U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland
Security Investigations (HSI) to the ‘drop house’ where the aliens were held. After conducting
surveillance, the ICE agents questioned the driver of a vehicle seen leaving the house. The driver,
Chavez-Angulo, was arrested by agents at that time. When agents entered the home, they found a
loaded shotgun and more than 40 illegal aliens held hostage inside. They then arrested Oscar
Caballero-Vergara and Abraham Flores-Angeles inside the home.
“The violence perpetrated on illegal aliens by criminal smuggling organizations reveals
their true motive, to extract as much profit as possible regardless of the pain, suffering and
humiliation of those they are supposedly ‘helping,’” said Matt Allen, special agent in charge of
ICE Homeland Security Investigations in Phoenix. “ICE will continue to work closely with the
U.S. Attorney’s Office to ensure that criminals involved in the smuggling, abuse and extortion of
illegal aliens in Arizona are held accountable for their actions.”
A conviction for Hostage Taking and a Firearm charge carry a maximum penalty of life in
prison years, a $ 250,000 fine or both. These penalties must be served consecutively. The
evidence at trial showed the hostage taking included a ransom demand, the use of a dangerous
weapon, and vulnerable victims. Combined with the penalty for the firearm charge and related
offenses, his recommended guideline sentence will likely be life in prison. In determining an
actual sentence, Judge Bolton will consult the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide
appropriate sentencing ranges. The judge, however, is not bound by those guidelines in
determining a sentence but is bound by the statute requiring that a mandatory minimum sentenced
The investigation leading to the guilty verdict was conducted by U.S. Immigration and
Customs Enforcement. The prosecution was handled by Walter Perkel and Leta Hollon, Assistant
U.S. Attorneys, District of Arizona, Phoenix.
CASE NUMBER: CR-10-506-PHX-SRB
RELEASE NUMBER: 2011-020(Caballero-Vergara et al)
For more information on the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, visit http://www.justice.gov/usao/az/