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Human Smuggling/Trafficking

Mexican national convicted of transporting illegal aliens resulting in a death

DES MOINES, Iowa - A Mexican national was convicted on Thursday of unlawfully transporting illegal aliens which resulted in the death of a passenger in his vehicle. This conviction was announced by U.S. Attorney Nicholas A. Klinefeldt, Southern District of Iowa. The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Marshall County Sheriff's Office, and the Iowa State Patrol.

Javier Garcia Alvarez, 35, was convicted by a federal jury in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Iowa. Evidence presented before U.S. District Judge John A. Jarvey established that Garcia, an illegal alien, had transported 10 other illegal aliens by van to Iowa in February. Two of the passengers who are brothers, Edgar and Daniel Epifanio, testified that after walking through the desert from Mexico for three days, they were smuggled into the United States as part of a larger group. Each smuggled alien paid a $2,000 smuggling fee and were then driven to a house in the Phoenix-area where they remained with others at a stash house.

Subsequently, 10 illegal aliens were driven from Arizona to Iowa in a 2002 Dodge van. On the night of Feb. 26, Edgar and Dianiel Epifanio, as well as Noemi Celestino De Jesus, Edgar's wife, were involved in a vehicle accident in rural Marshall County. While turning onto Iowa Avenue (formerly Highway 30), the driver of the van ran a stop sign and the van was struck broadside. As a result of this collision, Ms. De Jesus was killed.

The jury found that the driver of the van transporting the illegal aliens was Javier Garcia Alvarez. Garcia faces a sentence of up to life imprisonment, a fine of up to $250,000, an assessment to the Crime Victim Fund of $100, and a period of supervised release after he completes whatever prison sentence he may be awarded. A sentencing date has not been set.

The case was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Iowa.