Human smugglers sentenced in Bradenton case

MANATEE — A mother and son were sentenced in federal court this week after they were arrested in the fall after they held a 30-year-old Guatemalan man captive for days after his family would not pay additional fees for smuggling him into the country, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Erisbel Artiles, 31, and his mother, Lazara Z. Moreira-Penin, 54, both Cuban citizens and permanent resident aliens of Hialeah, were sentenced Thursday in Tampa by U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bucklew.

Artiles received 121 months in prison for hostage taking and Moreira-Penin received one year for conspiracy to transport illegal aliens.

The Guatemalan man was smuggled into Bradenton Sept. 2. The man’s family initially paid smugglers in Guatemala and then to Artiles to transport the man from Texas to Florida.

However, when Artiles arrived with the man in Bradenton, he demanded more money, stating if he could not pay the increase, he would never see his brother again.

The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, Bradenton office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Miami FBI Violent Crimes Task Force and the FBI Southwest Florida Violent Crimes Task Force became aware of the case after the man’s family contacted them.

Moreira-Penin eventually delivered the man to a gas station in Bradenton where she was arrested. Artiles was arrested in Miami.