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  • 28


     
    Texas: Pleas in Illegals Case
    Immigration; Posted on: 2007-08-13 19:38:52 [ Printer friendly / Instant flyer ]
    Five people accused of harboring, smuggling illegal aliens enter pleas

    By Allan Essex, Valley Morning Star

    Five people accused of harboring or smuggling illegal aliens at two Harlingen motels entered guilty pleas Friday in federal court.

    Rakeshkumar Bhakta and wife Akta Bhakta, owners of the Hudson House Motel, 500 Ed Carey Drive, and his brother, Kamleshkumar Bhakta and wife, Falguniben Bhakta, owners of the Country Side Inn, 1669 N. 77 Sunshine Strip, appeared with their attorneys before U.S. District Judge Hilda Tagle.

    The judge questioned them about their understanding of plea bargain agreements they have made with federal prosecutors.

    Also on trial was Domingo Santibaņez, charged with alien smuggling. He was the only defendant in custody, wearing a jail uniform, handcuffs and leg irons.

    Reviewing court records, the judge said 27 undercover Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents posed as undocumented aliens. Five actual aliens were involved in a series of incidents in 2006 in which the two couples from India, who own and operate the motels, were housing people they believed to be illegal aliens, according to the indictments.

    The motel owners also purchased food and delivered it to motel rooms where ICE agents posing as aliens, or real aliens, were staying so they could remain undetected by law enforcement officials, the indictments state.

    The four motel owners told the judge they did not dispute the information in the reports.

    Tagle told attorneys for the motel owners she will not consider their mortgage and utility expenses as personal living expenses when considering what fines to assess since they live in motel rooms and do not rent or own homes.

    Complete article
    News Source: brownsvilleherald.com

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