Two men appeared before a Texas district court judge Monday to face charges stemming from a 17-count indictment related to an alleged fatal crash that occurred in a March human smuggling attempt. A crash left two innocent victims dead and multiple migrants injured.
Jesus Eduardo Estrada, 19, and Humberto Garcia, 27, appeared before a judge in the 430th state District Court in Edinburg, Texas, on Monday. The arraignment follows a grand jury indictment on two counts of murder, two counts of evading arrest resulting in death, six counts of smuggling of persons causing serious bodily injury, six counts of evading arrest causing serious bodily injury, and one count of engaging in organized criminal activity, the Monitor reported.
A Texas Department of Public Safety crash report obtained by the local newspaper states that the driver of a 2004 Ford Expedition contained multiple “unrestrained occupants.” The Expedition traveled at a high rate of speed in an attempt to avoid arrest and lost control after steering onto a grass median while attempting to pass other vehicles on the roadway. After losing control, the vehicle reportedly veered into oncoming traffic and crashed into a Nissan Sentra occupied by San Juan, Texas, residents Leonel Martinez Jr., 45, and Aurora Chavez, 69, Breitbart Texas reported at the time.
Estrada and Garcia are accused of smuggling a group of migrants in the vehicle. The crash allegedly caused serious bodily injury to Lucas Morales-Xirum, Luica Perez-Antero, Blanca Lily Villegas-Diaz, Tomas Gabriel Gonzalez-Morales, Yeslin Janeth Mendez-Ramos, and Presentacion Martinez — the migrants allegedly being smuggled in the Expedition.
The Expedition is allegedly owned by Guadalupe Garcia-Chavez, who is also charged with engaging in organized criminal activity with Garcia, Estrada, and three others relating to the alleged smuggling incident, the newspaper stated.
The Monitor reports that Garcia has a criminal history that includes “attempted capital murder on accusations that he shot one person and shot at five people” in February 2010. In a plea agreement, Garcia received eight years probation for robbery. The prosecutor dropped the attempted capital murder charge in exchange for the plea on the robbery charge.
Garcia remains in a local jail on a $500,000 bond while Estrada is being held on a bond of $2.5 million.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas charged three men in Laredo, Texas, in similar cases where human smugglers allegedly crashed their vehicles during police pursuits, Breitbart Texas reported. All three crashes resulted in serious injuries to the migrants allegedly being smuggled.
U.S. Attorney Ryan Patrick charged three men who allegedly crashed their vehicles while smuggling illegal immigrants and attempting to avoid arrest. Each incident involved pursuits by law enforcement officials that allegedly ended in rollovers.