Man pleads guilty to sexual assault as part of human smuggling attempt

Published: Mar. 16, 2023 at 3:22 PM CDT
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LAREDO, Tex. (KGNS) - A man pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a woman he admitted to holding as part of a human smuggling attempt.

According to reports, the incident happened back in August 2021. The Laredo Police Department had gotten a tip from several apartments on Flores Avenue being used to smuggle or hide immigrants.

When officers went to check, they found about 66 immigrants in three different apartments. Leonel Botello was found outside with a woman. The woman told investigators that he had forced sexual acts on her and vice-versa for the course of several days.

Botello originally claimed she was his ex-girlfriend and that they had been in a relationship for several years even though he did not know her name. When finally confronted with several conflicting stories, he said he had met her the day before and that they had had relations once.

In the interviewing process, Botello also admitted to being paid to keep the immigrants at one of the apartments. Officers also seized his phone and found several nude photos of the victims.

Botello has pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual assault and has been sentenced to 10 years to serve.

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