Accused immigrant smuggler to be held without bond

Gerardo Carreon, 36, waived hearing where bond could have been set

Gerardo Javier Carreon (Photo: 2013 arrest)
Gerardo Javier Carreon (Photo: 2013 arrest)

SAN ANTONIO – The man accused of smuggling more than 50 immigrants in a refrigerated trailer has waived a hearing that could have led a judge to set a bond in the case.

Gerardo Carreon, 36, has been held without bond since his arrest Tuesday, when federal agents saw the immigrants getting out of the truck near Loop 410 and Broadway.

A criminal complaint said Carreon admitted to investigators that he traveled from Laredo to San Antonio, but that another person drove the truck to an H-E-B warehouse near Rittiman Road and parked it there. Carreon said he drove to the warehouse and picked up the truck and drove it to an alley where he used bolt cutters to cut the seal of the trailer to allow the immigrants to exit, the document said. 

The document said the youngest person in the trailer was 16 years old.

All of the immigrants survived the journey. At least four of them are expected to give sworn testimony in the case against Carreon. 

Federal prosecutors filed a request to hold Carreon without bond because they consider him a flight risk. They also cited a previous smuggling conviction, which KSAT-12 first reported on Wednesday.

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 narcotics 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.

His current case has not yet been set for trial.