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Texas soldiers sentenced to prison for smuggling immigrants

By Calley Hair
Texas soldiers sentenced to prison for smuggling immigrants
A wall along the U.S.-Mexico border in El Paso, Texas, as seen on June 25, 2021. Two active duty soldiers in the U.S. Army were sentenced to prison on Friday for their role in an illegal immigrant smuggling scheme. Photo by Yuri Gripas/UPI | License Photo

March 26 (UPI) -- Two active-duty soldiers stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, have been sentenced to prison after pleading guilty in an illegal immigrant smuggling scheme.

Isaiah Gore, 21, and Denerio Williams, 22, admitted to conspiring to transport undocumented people. Gore was sentenced to 30 months and Williams was sentenced to 24 months by U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo, the Justice Department announced Friday. Both sentences also included three years of post-release supervision.

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Marmolejo took the defendants' position in the military into consideration, imposing a stricter sentence because they were "not the average citizen," the Justice Department said in a statement.

The investigation began in June 2021, when authorities discovered Emmanuel Oppongagyare and Ralph Gregory Saint-Joie -- both wearing their U.S. Army uniforms -- smuggling undocumented immigrants in the trunk of a vehicle at a Border Patrol checkpoint in South Texas.

Oppongagyare later told investigators that Gore had recruited the pair to pick the undocumented passengers up from the border town of McAllen and drive them to San Antonio. The subsequent investigation found that each of the defendants would travel to locations in Texas to transport the immigrants in exchange for money.

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Oppongagyare and Saint-Joie pled guilty in August and are awaiting sentencing. Another co-conspirator was Ivory Palmer, 21, who pleaded guilty in January. Palmer's sentencing is still pending.

Gore has been discharged from the Army, The Hill reported.

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