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    3 men sentenced for working at Donna stash house where migrants ‘tortured and raped’

    By Steven Masso,


    McALLEN, Texas ( ValleyCentral ) — Three men who worked at a stash house where migrants were allegedly raped and extorted were sentenced for their respective roles in the crime.

    Jesus Valdez, Darrel Palomares and Rodrigo Acevedo were each sentenced to federal prison on charges of bringing in and harboring migrants.

    The three men were indicted in December 2020, along with two other co-defendants; Jonathan Romero and Abel Cavazos.


    A criminal complaint stated that on Dec. 3, 2020, Homeland Security Investigations received information regarding a stash house in Donna.

    Special agents, along with Border Patrol, responded to the address and encountered Cavazos. Cavazos denied consent to search the property, and shortly after, agents saw several people fleeing a structure on the property heading north. After being apprehended, several admitted to being in the country illegally.

    Agents spoke with Cavazos again, who then gave consent to search the property. There, authorities found 20 people, 13 of which admitted to being migrants, the complaint stated.

    Valdez admitted in an interview that he was responsible for finding the location to stash the migrants, drove them to the property and was responsible for their wellbeing.

    Romero admitted that he helped the caretakers feed and provide water to the migrants. Romero identified the caretakers as Palomares and Acevedo.

    Acevedo told authorities that Cavazos was the owner of the house on the property. Agents spoke with a witness, who identified Cavazos as making phone calls to the migrant’s families asking for money, and physically assaulting them.

    Another witness told authorities that Cavazos carried a firearm around the migrants and was referred to as “boss,” the document stated.


    During Valdez’s sentencing, Chief U.S. District Judge Randy Crane referred to him as the ringleader.

    Valdez said that Romero was his brother. Romero, while out on bond, was killed in San Juan after he was shot multiple times in the trunk area. Valdez added that Palomares was Romero’s friend.

    Crane said that female migrants were raped and male migrants were sodomized by other co-conspirators.

    “I wasn’t aware of the rest of the stuff that was going on, your honor,” Valdez said.

    Prosecutors said the defendants had a calculated plan to extort the migrants and torture them in order to get money, including a demand of $5,000 from one of the victim’s who had been raped.

    Palomares was one of the men accused of sexually assaulting the women, which Palomares strongly denied.

    “I do want to declare that I had nothing to do with the female,” Palomares said. “I told the Marshals I would do whatever I had to do to prove to them I had nothing to do with that female. I’m very sorry that happened, and if I was able to stop it, I would’ve stopped it.”

    Prosecutors said that Palomares was, at minimum, identified by multiple witnesses as pointing a gun at the victim while they were being sexually assaulted.

    Valdez and Palomares were each sentenced to 10 years in prison on June 5. Acevedo was sentenced to 7.25 years in prison on Wednesday morning. Cavazos’ sentencing was reset to June 27.

    Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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