Fort Hood soldiers sentenced for role in migrant smuggling conspiracy

Published: Mar. 25, 2022 at 1:44 PM CDT
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LAREDO, Texas (KWTX) - Two Fort Hood soldiers have been sentenced to federal prison for conspiring to transport undocumented migrants.

Active duty soldiers Isaiah Gore, 21, and Denerio Williams, 22, pleaded guilty December 2, 2021. Ivory Palmer, 21, pleaded guilty January 10, 2022.

U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo imposed a 30-month-term of imprisonment for Gore, while Williams received 24 months.

Both must also serve three years of supervised release following their sentences.

Judge Marmolejo noted that Gore and Williams, as soldiers in the Army, were “not the average citizen,” which justified a tougher sentence.

Judge Marmolejo also emphasized that everyone involved in the scheme knew that wearing a uniform would assist in evading detection or arrest.

The investigation began June 13, 2021 when authorities caught Emmanuel Oppongagyare and Ralph Gregory Saint-Joie smuggling undocumented migrants in the trunk of a vehicle at the Border Patrol checkpoint in Hebbronville. At the time of arrest, both men were wearing their U.S. Army uniforms.

Oppongagyare later admitted Gore recruited them to pick the migrants up from McAllen and drive them to San Antonio.

Oppongagyare and Saint-Joie were indicted and pleaded guilty Aug. 11 and 12, respectively, in 2021 and are currently awaiting sentencing

A joint investigation later confirmed Oppongagyare, Saint-Joie, Williams and Palmer each served a role in the conspiracy as drivers who would travel to locations in Texas to transport the aliens in exchange for money.

Authorities further confirmed that Gore actively recruited people to pick up undocumented aliens.

Gore and Williams were permitted to remain on bond and voluntarily surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

Gore has since been discharged from the Army. Palmer is currently pending sentencing.

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