A federal judge in Laredo, Texas, sentenced three human smugglers to prison for their role in killing a migrant in a crash while fleeing Border Patrol agents.
U.S. District Judge Diana Saldaña ordered Guillermo Venegas, 19, to serve 70 months in prison for the death of the migrant. She also sentenced Edgardo Diaz, 20, and Antonio Aguilar, 20, to 87 months each, newly sworn-in U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas Ryan Patrick announced on Friday.
A criminal complaint obtained from federal court records by Breitbart Texas revealed all three of the convicted human smugglers are U.S. citizens.
During the evening of January 31, 2016, the three smugglers and a U.S. citizen minor (referred to in court documents as “RM”) set out to smuggle a group of illegal immigrants who had just crossed the border near Mines Road in Laredo, Texas. Mines road is a known human and drug smuggling area located west of Laredo and north of the Rio Grande River border with Mexico.
Border Patrol agents observed a white van and a black sedan parked on a ranch that is a known pickup point for smugglers to find illegal aliens who have crossed the border from Mexico, the complaint states. As the two vehicles began to drive away, agents observed they traveled closely together–but suspiciously slow. Agents documented that the two vehicles drove at about 20 to 40 mph in a 75 mph zone.
The agents attempted to conduct a traffic stop for an immigration inspection when the white van refused. Agents followed the van at a safe distance while other agents deployed a “control tire deflation device”. The driver managed to avoid the trap and continued driving at a slow rate of speed.
Agents noted the driver attempted a sharp turn in the road’s median. The driver lost control and rolled. The crash caused several people to be ejected from the van. Agents quickly called for emergency medical assistance and the local police.
One of the ejected passengers, an unidentified migrant, died at the scene.
Agents stopped the driver of the black sedan (referred to in court documents as the “scout vehicle”). A records check on the driver, Edgardo Diaz, revealed previous arrests for human smuggling.
The Border Patrol agents determined the U.S. citizen minor, RM, drove the white van. RM later confessed to investigators that Venegas recruited him to pick up the illegal aliens and transport them. He admitted to being paid for his illicit services.
The surviving illegal aliens received injuries in the crash. They came to the U.S. from Mexico and Guatemala. The Mexican national admitted to paying about $2,000 to be smuggled from Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, to Laredo, Texas.
Following the prison term for the three adults, each will serve between three and five years on supervised release. The Webb County District Attorney’s Office in Laredo prosecuted the juvenile and two other people involved in the case.
Officials did not indicate the current status of the surviving illegal aliens.
Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas. He is a founding member of the Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX, Gab, and Facebook.