SAN ANTONIO – A Laredo man arrested in San Antonio on Tuesday on human smuggling charges has a previous conviction for the same charge, though the circumstances are different.
Gerardo Javier Carreon, 36, was charged Wednesday after federal agents found him with 54 people inside a tractor-trailer on San Antonio's North Side. Shane M. Folden, Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent in Charge, said the group of immigrants consisted of men, women and minors. Folden said they were from countries including Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Brazil.
Court records show Carreon pleaded guilty in 2009 to one charge of transporting and moving an undocumented alien within the United States for private financial gain. A criminal complaint said U.S. Border Patrol agents assigned to the checkpoint on Texas State Highway 359, just west of Bruni, spotted people walking under the electric pole lines near the checkpoint -- an area "commonly used by narcotic and human traffickers to circumvent the checkpoint," the complaint said.
Agents made their way to the group, hearing "what sounded to be brush breaking and people whispering" just before three people were caught. Two of them said they were undocumented Mexican aliens, and Carreon said he was a U.S. citizen.
"Upon contact, Carreon freely admitted that he was guiding the two illegal subjects around the checkpoint for monetary gain," the complaint said.
Carreon later told his version of the incident to Border Patrol agents.
"Carreon admitted that he was approached by an acquaintance only known to him by the name 'Cuate' to help guide the undocumented migrants around a Border Patrol checkpoint. He received instructions from Cuate to meet an unknown man and the undocumented migrants at the HEB grocery store on Saunders (Street) in Laredo, Texas. After they met, they were driven to a location west of the checkpoint where they were dropped off near a brush line. Subjects then walked for approximately three hours before they were apprehended by Border Patrol agents. Carreon said he was to be paid $1,000 the following day once the undocumented aliens were safely guided around the checkpoint and picked up in Bruni, Texas," the Border Patrol's report said.
Carreon pleaded guilty to the charge in February 2009 in exchange for a 15-month sentence at a federal prison in Three Rivers. As part of his punishment, Carreon was required to get help for drug and/or alcohol addiction and then to perform 75 hours of community service within two years of his release. In July 2010, his supervision was revoked for hitting an unattended vehicle, excessive use of alcohol and failing to follow instructions from his probation officer. Carreon was sent back to prison for six more months.
Carreon's other legal troubles go back to 2001 when he was arrested by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents in Laredo for possession with a controlled substance. Other arrests include:
- 2002: Possession with intent to distribute a quantity less than 50 kilograms of marijuana, for which he received a sentence of 24 months and three years.
- 2004: Illegal entry without inspection.
- 2005: Possession of less than 2 ounces of marijuana.
- 2006: Unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon.
- 2013: Possession of a controlled substance less than 1 gram (Bexar County).
The records also reference a 2008 charge of alien smuggling, which was dismissed by federal prosecutors within two months. That case involved a traffic stop by a Duval County Sheriff's Office deputy who said Carreon failed to drive in a single lane. A passenger in the Chevrolet Tahoe that Carreon was driving was identified as an undocumented migrant from Mexico who was in the U.S. illegally. Carreon did not explain why he was with the migrant. That person said he offered Carreon $100 to drive him to San Antonio.
"Carreon declined his offer and instead stated that he would take him to San Antonio for $200," the document said.
The document also said Carreon used the alias Gustavo Hernandez-Contreras in an arrest in 2004.
"Carreon had been apprehended with a group of aliens in Laredo, Texas, while walking in the brush and was charged as a guide in this incident of May 8, 2004. When Carreon was questioned about this charge he remained silent," the document said.
The outcome of that case was not clear.