Douglas couple gets prison time for trying to smuggle teen girl

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The following is a news release from Office of the United State Attorney, District of Arizona.

TUCSON -- Jessica Renee Botello, 21, was sentenced today to 15 months in prison and Abel Alfredo Lucero, 21, was sentenced yesterday to 42 months in federal prison, both by Chief U.S. District Judge John M. Roll, for the attempted smuggling of a teenage girl.

Lucero and Botello, both of Douglas, Ariz., admitted that on December 14, 2007, they attempted to enter the U.S. from Mexico via the pedestrian lane at the Douglas Port of Entry in Douglas, Ariz. with a 13-year-old female undocumented alien from El Salvador. They claimed the girl was a U.S. citizen. A U.S. Customs and Border Protection official asked the teenage girl to write her name and date of birth on a piece of paper and became suspicious when she could not do so without asking Botello.

Lucero admitted that he and Botello knew the girl was an undocumented alien and that a man named "Dario" was going to give them $350 for escorting the girl into the U.S. The pair admitted that they planned to use the money to buy drugs.

Botello and Lucero pleaded guilty on March 5, 2008, and June 11, 2008, respectively, to conspiracy to transport an illegal alien for financial gain. Lucero also pleaded guilty to failure to appear in court in March 2008 on these charges, which combined with his extensive criminal history, resulted in a longer sentence.

The girl was detained for reunification with her father in El Salvador via the El Salvadorian consulate.

The investigation in this case was conducted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The prosecution was handled by Mary Sue Feldmeier, Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Arizona, Tucson.