Businessman McAllen placed on probation after pleading guilty to transporting illegal aliens – Progress Times
A federal judge placed businessman McAllen on probation last week after pleading guilty to transporting an illegal alien.
U.S. District Judge Randy Crane placed 51-year-old Jose Luis Trejo of McAllen on probation for three years.
“I would like you to know how sincerely sorry I am,” Trejo said Sept. 9, when he appeared before Crane for sentencing.
A grand jury indicted Trejo, owner of McAllen-based Best Medical Supply, with a 2020 federal money laundering charge. He pleaded not guilty.
After nearly two years of pretrial proceedings, federal prosecutors have agreed to drop the money laundering charge if Trejo pleads guilty to transporting an illegal alien instead.
“We’re just very pleased with the outcome for Mr. Trejo and his family,” said San Antonio attorney Jason M. Davis, who represented Trejo. “We appreciate that after a very lengthy investigation, the government has agreed to dismiss the indictment.”
The FBI arrested Trejo after conducting an undercover operation.
In February 2020, according to the indictment against him, “Jose Luis Trejo conducted and attempted to conduct a financial transaction affecting interstate or foreign commerce involving property represented by an individual as a product and property used to conduct or facilitating a specified illegal activity, namely: bribing a public official and illegally smuggling goods from the United States.
The government had already seized about $347,000 worth of gold coins during the investigation, according to the indictment. In addition to parts, the government wanted Trejo to give up $400,000 and a warehouse in Hidalgo.
Although the indictment provided a summary of the scheme – Trejo had carried out some sort of financial transaction involving “products and property” allegedly linked to corruption and smuggling – it did not provide any details.
The details emerged, piece by piece, during court hearings in 2021 and 2022, when the prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Roberto “Bobby” Lopez Jr., discussed the case with Trejo’s attorneys.
Trejo had business dealings with former Peñitas City Manager Omar Romero, who pleaded guilty in the Western Hidalgo County bribery case, and former Hidalgo County EMS CEO Kenneth B. Ponce, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bankruptcy fraud.
“Ultimately, Mr. Trejo was not involved in any of these lawsuits,” said attorney Alejandro Ballesteros of McAllen, who represented Trejo. “That’s why the government didn’t prosecute him.”
The money laundering charge, however, involved Jesus Juraidini, a Brownsville businessman.
Trejo’s attorneys described Juraidini as “the Gulf Cartel’s top extortionist.” Sometime between 2018 and 2020, Juraidini apparently began cooperating with the FBI.
Juraidini participated in the sting operation that targeted Trejo.
“He’s a guy who admitted to being a cartel enforcer, meeting Mr. Trejo and saying, ‘Hey, are you going to give me a check for this money?’ Mr. Trejo said: “I don’t have a lot of money,” Davis told a hearing in February 2022, when he summed up the sting operation. “The truth is, Mr. Justice , as we stated in the motion, that he had that much money, he just refused to do it.
Juraidini suggested he could buy property instead, Davis said, and Trejo felt compelled to sell.
“Mr. Trejo, knowing this guy was an extortionist, said, ‘Okay, I’ll sell it to you. I’ll give you a deal on this. Whatever,'” Davis said.
No bribery or smuggling took place as part of the sting operation.
Juraidini pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States. He is due to be sentenced in December.
It remains unclear whether or not Trejo cooperated with the government and, if so, what information he provided to prosecutors.
In March 2021, attorneys for Trejo said they needed more time to review the evidence and “continue efforts to negotiate a possible agreed resolution to the case.”
“Because the basis of this motion includes matters that are the subject of a government motion under USSG §5K1.1, this motion to maintain has been filed under seal,” according to the motion, which no. had not been filed under seal.
The motion referred to Section §5K1.1 of the US Sentencing Commission’s guidelines manual, which explains how a person who provides “substantial assistance” to the government can receive a reduced sentence.
Trejo reached a settlement with prosecutors in July 2022.
He agreed to plead guilty to transporting an illegal alien, which carries a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison. Prosecutors, meanwhile, agreed to drop the money laundering charge, which carries a maximum of 20 years in prison.
The standard two-page plea agreement also had an addendum, which remains sealed.
Trejo pleaded guilty on July 11, when he confessed to transporting “an alien who came, entered, and remained in the United States contrary to law” from McAllen to San Antonio.
Trejo returned to court last week for sentencing.
Crane, the federal judge, placed Trejo on probation for three years and fined him $5,000. Trejo must also pay a $5,000 fee required by the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015.
“I wish to express my true remorse for my actions,” Trejo said.