Beacon smuggler of hundreds of illegal immigrants into U.S. gets 41 months

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A Beacon man has been sentenced to 41 months in federal prison for his role in a human smuggling operation that brought hundreds of illegal immigrants across the Mexican border and up to the Hudson Valley.

Julian Herrera Silva, 51 -- who also owns a home in Laredo, Texas -- pleaded guilty in 2012 in U.S. District Court in White Plains to conspiring to smuggle illegal immigrants into the country.

Herrera Silva ran the human smuggling operation from November 2006 to September 2010, prosecutors said.

Another alleged member of the smuggling ring, Cordelia Medina, 36, also of Laredo, is facing similar charges in federal court in White Plains. Her case is pending, and a trial date has not been set.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Bauer, who is prosecuting both cases, said illegal immigrants who cooperated in the investigation described the trips from Mexico to the Hudson Valley as "harrowing."

"One individual ... told agents about how Herrera Silva himself dragged [the illegal immigrants'] young children across the Rio Grande in inner tubes," Bauer wrote in court papers.

A lawyer for Herrera Silva could not be reached for comment.

Department of Homeland Security agents, who investigated the case, said the families of illegal immigrants typically wired payments to Herrera Silva and his co-conspirators by Western Union.

"Those records revealed several hundred different payments, most in the $1,000 to $3,000 range, to members of the organization, totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars," Bauer wrote in court papers.

Homeland Security agents found 10 illegal immigrants in the Hudson Valley who were willing to cooperate in the investigation, prosecutors said.

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U.S. Customs and Border Patrol records indicate Herrera Silva made 28 trips across the Texas-Mexico border in the month of November 2010.

In all, he and his conspirators brought "several hundred" illegal immigrants across the border and then took them home to Laredo. From there, Herrera Silva drove them to Newburgh, Beacon and other parts of the Hudson Valley, prosecutors said.

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