‘Coyote’ who smuggled Mexican citizens to Sacramento gets one-year prison sentence

Rosalio Ahumada
Mon, January 23, 2023 at 8:31 PM EST

A federal judge on Monday sentenced a man to a year in prison for transporting Mexican citizens smuggled into the U.S. after he threatened the Sacramento family of one migrant over a pay dispute, prosecutors said.

Mateo Gomez Gonzalez, 29, of Mexico, was sentenced for unlawful transportation of noncitizens without status, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Sacramento announced in a news release. Gomez, who was identified by prosecutors as a human smuggler also known as a “coyote,” pleaded guilty to the federal charge on Oct. 24.

On Sept. 28, a Sacramento resident called law enforcement officials to report his relative and a family friend were being held against their will over a payment dispute in a human smuggling operation.

Prosecutors said the driver of a vehicle, later identified as Gomez, was threatening to drop the relative and the family friend at an unknown stash house rather than to the awaiting family members if additional payment was not made.

Gomez was part of a smuggling ring that brought people from Mexico into the country through Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California, according to a criminal complaint filed Oct. 3 in federal court.

The migrants told authorities that they first encountered Gomez when he began driving them from Albuquerque, New Mexico. He refused to turn over the two migrants unless he was paid twice as much as he had arranged for delivering them to Sacramento, according to the filed court document.

In response to the tip, law enforcement officials found a gray Honda Pilot with Arizona license plates at a gas station near the Yolo County town of Dunnigan.

Authorities found four passengers in the vehicle who had entered the country illegally, and they arrested Gomez.