A downtown El Paso hotel owner was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison for conspiracy to smuggle, transport and/or harbor illegal aliens, money laundering and tax fraud.
Song U. Chon, 55, owner of the Gateway Hotel, was sentenced to 180 months in federal prison followed by three years of probation and ordered to pay restitution to the government.
According to the investigation by the immigration and border officials, the defendant and his co-horts harbored at least 5,000 smuggled aliens from 2003 to 2009 at the Gateway Hotel.
Jurors found that beginning in June 2003 and continuing to May 2009, the defendants conspired and devised a plan to smuggle hundreds of illegal aliens into the United States from Mexico, Central America, South America, Eastern Europe and Southwest Asia. The defendants harbored the aliens in El Paso using the Gateway Hotel and other locations. The defendants supplied them with shelter, food and clothing until their family or “sponsor” paid a fee, usually about $2,000. Once the fee was paid, generally by Western Union and/or Money Gram, the defendants transported the illegal aliens to their final destination in the United States.
Jurors further found that Chon laundered the proceeds of the alien smuggling conspiracy by using illegal profits to promote the alien smuggling scheme.