Three Men Sentenced for Human Trafficking at Stash House in Donna, Texas

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McALLEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Three men involved in operating a stash house where migrants were allegedly raped and extorted have been sentenced for their roles in the crime.

Jesus Valdez, Darrel Palomares, and Rodrigo Acevedo received federal prison sentences for charges of bringing in and harboring migrants.

The three were indicted in December 2020, along with two other co-defendants, Jonathan Romero and Abel Cavazos.

Background

On December 3, 2020, Homeland Security Investigations received information about a stash house in Donna. Special agents and Border Patrol responded and encountered Cavazos, who initially denied consent to search the property. However, agents saw several people fleeing the structure and, upon apprehension, several admitted to being in the country illegally.

Cavazos later consented to a search, leading agents to discover 20 people on the property, 13 of whom admitted to being migrants.

Valdez confessed to finding the location, transporting the migrants, and overseeing their wellbeing. Romero admitted to helping the caretakers feed and provide water to the migrants, identifying Palomares and Acevedo as the caretakers.

Acevedo stated that Cavazos owned the house. A witness identified Cavazos as making extortion calls to migrants’ families and physically assaulting the migrants. Another witness said Cavazos carried a firearm and was referred to as “boss.”

Sentencing

During Valdez’s sentencing, Chief U.S. District Judge Randy Crane called him the ringleader. Valdez mentioned that Romero was his brother, who was killed while out on bond, and Palomares was Romero’s friend.

Crane highlighted that female migrants were raped and male migrants were sodomized by other co-conspirators.

Valdez claimed ignorance of these actions, but prosecutors said the defendants had a calculated plan to extort and torture the migrants, demanding $5,000 from one rape victim.

Palomares denied involvement in the sexual assaults, stating, “I had nothing to do with the female.” He expressed remorse and willingness to prove his innocence. However, prosecutors noted multiple witnesses identified Palomares as pointing a gun at the victim during the assault.

Valdez and Palomares were each sentenced to 10 years in prison on June 5. Acevedo received a 7.25-year sentence on Wednesday morning. Cavazos’ sentencing was rescheduled for June 27.

Steven Masso
Steven Masso
Digital Reporter. Steven has a degree in communication and previously worked as a writer for UTRGV. He is behind the podcast Via the Source, which discusses NFL news with a focus on the Miami Dolphins. It later became a recognized fan site by the team. Sports and comedy are Steven's biggest passions.

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