Adjunct professor Ted Parran III (LAW '13) is an Assistant United States Attorney in McAllen, Texas. McAllen is a rapidly growing border city in deep south Texas, and is a focal point for transnational criminal activity of many kinds, including human smuggling. Parran recently completed a successful federal jury trial against a human smuggler who had exploited and extorted vulnerable migrants.
Earlier this week, Parran served as trial counsel in a federal jury trial of a U.S. citizen who was charged with thirteen counts of hostage taking, human smuggling and firearms charges in connection with the gunpoint kidnapping and extortion of migrants from various places in Latin America. In his opening statement, Parran informed the jury that the case was about money, exploitation and terror. During the trial, the jury heard evidence of exactly that. They heard how the defendant and others were engaged in international smuggling of migrants into the United States. The jury heard that, instead of transporting the migrants further into the United States, the defendant and his co-conspirators held the migrants at gunpoint at multiple locations over the course of more than 24 hours. The defendant and his co-conspirators held guns to the heads and ribs of hostages, threatened to kill the hostages and forced the hostages to call family members to demand money for their release. Even though the terrified family members did pay additional money, the defendant continued to hold the migrants at gunpoint until law enforcement arrived to rescue the hostages. On the third day of trial, the jury deliberated for less than an hour before returning a guilty verdict. Sentencing will be held in January 2024 before United States District Court Senior Judge Michaela Alvarez, with the defendant facing up to life in prison.
"This case is just one example of the many challenges related to the larger issue of human smuggling, and not just here in North America, but throughout the world," Parran says. "Writ large, transnational criminal organizations make huge profits off of fees paid by migrants to be smuggled into the United States, and in other parts of the globe as well. These migrants are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, and can find themselves victimized at the hands of extortionate criminals."