For Immediate Release
Jury Finds Fort Hancock Resident Guilty of Transporting Illegal Aliens and Other Crimes
EL PASO – Late last Friday, a federal jury found Gilberto Morales guilty on six counts, including one count of conspiracy to possess marijuana; one count of possession of marijuana; one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm; one count of conspiracy to transport aliens; one count of conspiracy to harbor aliens; and one count of harboring aliens.
Per the evidence at trial, Gilberto Morales conspired with others to possess with intent to distribute 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana beginning around June 1, 2019, and continuing until August 14, 2020. On August 14, 2020, Morales and another also possessed 100 kilograms or more of marijuana.
On August 14, 2020, Morales was found to be a felon in possession of approximately 1,833 rounds of assorted ammunition and 11 firearms. Morales’ prior conviction consisted of a charge of conspiracy with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine in the Southern District of New York in 2009. He was sentenced to 50 months in prison for that charge.
From June 1, 2019, until August 14, 2020, Morales conspired to transport and harbor aliens and then on August 14, 2020, he harbored aliens.
After the guilty verdict, Morales was taken into custody. Morales’ sentencing date has not been set.
U.S. Attorney Ashley C. Hoff and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge Erik P. Breitzke, El Paso Division made the announcement.
Homeland Security Investigations and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigated this case with assistance from the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Border Patrol. AUSAs Adrian Gallegos and Spencer Kiggins are prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
AUSA Adrian Gallegos and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas participate in Joint Task Force Alpha (JTFA), which was established by Attorney General Merrick B. Garland in June 2021 to marshal the investigative and prosecutorial resources of the Department of Justice, in partnership with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), to enhance U.S. enforcement efforts against the most prolific and dangerous human smuggling and trafficking groups operating in Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. The Task Force focuses on disrupting and dismantling smuggling and trafficking networks that abuse, exploit, or endanger migrants, pose national security threats, and are involved in organized crime. JTFA consists of federal prosecutors and attorneys from U.S. Attorney’s Offices along the Southwest Border (District of Arizona, Southern District of California, Southern District of Texas, and Western District of Texas), from the Criminal Division and the Civil Rights Division, along with law enforcement agents and analysts from DHS’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Patrol. The FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration are also part of the Task Force.