Two Honduran citizens suspected of conspiring to transport illegal aliens from Canada into the United States appear in court

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

GREAT FALLS — Two men from Honduras appeared in court today on immigration-related charges after U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested them and detained others following a suspected illegal border crossing from Canada into Montana, near Sweetgrass, U.S. Attorney Leif M. Johnson said.

Jorge Orellana-Banegas, 23, and his uncle, Jose Eugenio Banegas-Torres, 38, both Honduran citizens, had initial appearances on criminal complaints accusing each of illegal transport of aliens and conspiracy to transport aliens.

A criminal complaint is only an accusation, and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

U.S. Magistrate Judge John T. Johnston presided. Both defendants were detained pending further proceedings.

The government alleged in court documents that at 11:45 p.m. on May 22, a group of eight individuals illegally crossed into the United States from Canada west of Sweetgrass. Border Patrol agents observed the group walk through an area known as “Buckley Coulee” and get into a 2021 Nissan Armada that was parked on Loop Road. An agent drove toward the vehicle to attempt an immigration stop and activated his lights and siren as the Nissan increased speed. The Nissan drove off the road and into Buckley Coulee and then went through a fence before stopping. All of the vehicle’s occupants got out and ran in multiple directions although an agent identified himself and gave commands in English and Spanish to stop. Agents chased the occupants on foot and caught five of the individuals. Agents searched the area for four outstanding individuals but did not find them.

Five of the individuals who were caught were transported to the Sweetgrass Border Patrol Station for processing. Four of the individuals claimed to be citizens of Mexico and one was a Honduran citizen.

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The next day, a Border Patrol agent responded to a call of a suspicious person walking and hitch hiking south of Sunburst and located Orellana, who was transported to the Sweetgrass Station.

The government further alleged that an investigation determined Orellana was the driver and that his uncle, Banegas-Torres, was the smuggling guide. In all, six suspects were transported to the Sweetgrass Border Patrol Station for processing. Three other suspects in the crossing have not been located.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office is prosecuting the case, which was investigated by the U.S. Border Patrol.

PACER case reference. 22-mj-37 and 22-mj-38.

The progress of cases may be monitored through the U.S. District Court Calendar and the PACER system. To establish a PACER account, which provides electronic access to review documents filed in a case, please visit To access the District Court’s calendar, please visit