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Fort Hood soldiers sentenced for human smuggling operation uncovered in Texas

Judge's gavel. (Staff Sgt. Nicholas Rau/U.S. Air Force)

A pair of Fort Hood soldiers were sentenced to time behind bars after they were linked to a human smuggling operation uncovered in Texas last year.

The soldiers, Isaiah Gore, 21, and Denerio Williams, 22, both of them active duty, pleaded guilty in December 2021 to conspiring to transport undocumented aliens, according to a statement released by U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery on Friday. They were sentenced to 2 1/2 years 2 years in prison, respectively. Both soldiers also received three years of supervised release after their prison time is up.

An investigation into the scheme revealed that Gore actively recruited people to pick up undocumented immigrants while Williams and other soldiers served as drivers, who then took the immigrants elsewhere in Texas in exchange for money.

In handing down the prison terms, Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo noted that Gore and Williams, as soldiers in the Army, were “not the average citizen,” which warranted harsher sentencing. The judge additionally emphasized that the suspects wore their military uniforms, knowing that it would help them evade arrest.

Authorities initially caught wind of the operation on June 13, 2021, when authorities spotted two soldiers — Emmanuel Oppongagyare and Ralph Gregory Saint-Joie — with two undocumented people in the trunk of their vehicle at a Hebbronville Border Patrol checkpoint.

Oppongagyare and Saint-Joie pleaded guilty in August and both are currently awaiting sentencing.

One more soldier, Ivory Palmer, has also pleaded guilty and sentencing is pending in his case.


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