DENVER – Russia deported a Colorado man in recent days who was accused of illegally entering the country through its southern border while looking for a “better life,” according to reports.
The Washington Post was the first American news outlet to report on the arrest and deportation of Julio Prieto, whom The Post says is an insurance salesman, though Denver7 has not been able to verify he is registered as an insurance agent in Colorado.
Court records show his two most-recent addresses were in Englewood and in Monte Vista, located in Rio Grande County in southern Colorado.
The Post’s report was based off reports from Russian media, including the English-language Siberian Times.
According to reports, Prieto tried to enter Russia legally from Kazakhstan but was denied entry to the country because he didn’t have a visa. But he tried to sneak over the border on Sept. 14 and was caught by border agents near Karasuk.
Russian media reports Prieto told prosecutors he was “looking for a better life” and was seeking work in Siberia.
Court records show Prieto pleaded guilty to a 2010 federal charge of conspiracy to distribute marijuana, to wit, in Las Cruces, New Mexico and was sentenced to three years of supervised probation beginning in January 2011. He and another man were bringing marijuana back from Mexico – Prieto’s birthplace – to Colorado.
He was required to complete a six-month home-monitoring program and was affixed with an ankle monitor to monitor his curfew. The judge also required him to complete a substance abuse treatment program and DWI school, and was barred from using alcohol or other substances.
But he was arrested for DUI in Arapahoe County in January 2012, after which his probation was transferred to Colorado while his DUI case was pending.
But Prieto’s trouble didn’t end there. He was arrested for a series of traffic infractions in Jefferson County in January 2013, then arrested in May 2013 on theft charges and traffic infractions in Aurora.
His probation officer had to contact him and ask about the new charges, and though he was required to report to the probation office the next day, he never showed up.
After not showing up to the office for another scheduled meeting, Prieto eventually showed, but admitted to using marijuana – another violation of his probation.
After that meeting, a judge decided that Prieto needed “more guidance, structure and a consequence for his actions,” and his supervised probation was modified to send him to a Denver residential re-entry program for six months.
It was extended at the end of 2013 pending the outcome of his new cases in Colorado.
It’s unclear exactly what transpired with Prieto in the several years afterward, but he ended up in the Urals in September.
The Siberian Times says Prieto was jailed for six weeks as he awaited a court hearing. He pleaded guilty to illegally entering Russia and could have faced up to two years in prison.
But he was fined the Russian equivalent of $105 instead, which was later reduced to a 2,000-ruble fine (approximately $30).
The Post reports Prieto was deported Monday and flown back to New York on the Russian government’s dime.
The Post reports the Tass news agency says Prieto is disappointed at his experience.
“He had been hoping for Russian hospitality, but he failed to get it and was deeply disappointed,” an official is quoted as saying.