Tyler, Texas – A Houston woman has been sentenced to prison for federal immigration violations in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston today.
Maria Elizabeth Lopez, 48, pleaded guilty on August 18, 2022, to conspiracy to transport certain aliens for commercial and private financial gain. Lopez was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison today by U.S. District Judge J. Campbell Barker.
According to information presented in court, on October 3, 2021, deputies with the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office stopped Lopez for a traffic violation. They discovered 24 Hispanic individuals in the Chevrolet Suburban she was driving. Federal agents responded to the scene and determined that each of the passengers in the Suburban had illegally entered the United States and that someone hired Lopez to transport the individuals to destinations Mississippi and Florida. Lopez also admitted during the investigation that she had previously transported illegal aliens in the same manner.
A federal grand jury indicted Lopez on October 21, 2021, and charged her with federal immigration violations.
Homeland Security Investigations, the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office, and the Alto Police Department investigated, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Allen Hurst prosecuted the case.