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Alleged leader of smuggling ring indicted

December 19, 1996

SAN DIEGO (AP) _ A smuggling ring allegedly used doctored and false immigration documents to spirit thousands of aliens over the Mexican border, generating about $30,000 a week, authorities said Wednesday.

Geremias Sanchez Gutierrez, 53, a legal U.S. resident, was working as a professional smuggler until officials raided his Chula Vista home on Nov. 26, and discovered more than 900 false immigration documents in a hidden compartment, said Michael G. Wheat, assistant U.S. Attorney.

``He has no other occupation besides bringing aliens into the United States. It’s a full time business for him,″ Wheat said Wednesday evening.

Documents bought from the ring enabled thousands of migrants to breeze through ports of entries, Wheat said.

Sanchez and two other defendants, Maria Martinez Duenas and Carlos Garcia Cardenas, have been unable to meet bail on charges including conspiracy to bring in, transport and harbor undocumented migrants; possession of five or more false identification documents; and possession of document-making implements.

If convicted of the smuggling charge, they face at least three years in prison.

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