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August 5, 2022Sells, AZ, United StatesHuman Smuggling/Trafficking

2 plead guilty after deadly rollover accident following HSI, TOPD investigation

TUCSON, Ariz. — Last week, two men pleaded guilty in Tucson federal court to conspiracy and transportation of illegal aliens for profit resulting in a death. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Tohono O’odham Police Department (TOPD) conducted the investigation into this case.

Matthew Dylan Ramirez, 20, of Tempe, and Jesus Madrid-Varela, 19, of Mexico, will be sentenced Nov. 1, before United States District Judge Jennifer G. Zipps.

In May 2021, Madrid-Varela smuggled three undocumented noncitizens into the United States by guiding them through the southern Arizona desert on foot, to a location near Quijotoa.

On May 22, 2021, Ramirez picked up and transported Madrid-Varela and the three undocumented noncitizens in his vehicle with the intent to smuggle them further into the United States. While driving, Ramirez passed a TOPD police officer who believed Ramirez was speeding. The officer attempted to stop Ramirez’s vehicle but was unsuccessful because Ramirez was driving over 100 miles per hour. Ramirez lost control of the vehicle and it rolled several times, ejecting all four passengers. One of the passengers, a 36-year-old woman from Mexico, was pronounced dead at the scene. The other passengers, including the decedent’s husband, sustained non-fatal injuries. After his arrest, Ramirez admitted that he was recruited through Snapchat by a smuggling organization that was going to pay him $1,000 for driving the undocumented noncitizens to Phoenix.

Ramirez pleaded guilty to the indictment without a plea agreement. He faces up to life in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Madrid-Varela pleaded guilty with a plea agreement and faces 36-57 months in prison.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Anna Wright, District of Arizona, Tucson, handled the prosecution.

Members of the public who have information about this case, or any smuggling activity, are urged to call 1-866-347-2423 toll-free, internationally at 001-1802-872-6199, or complete the online tip form.

For additional information about HSI’s smuggling activity in Arizona, please follow us at @HSIPhoenix.

HSI is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move. HSI’s workforce of over 10,400 employees consists of more than 6,800 special agents assigned to 225 cities throughout the United States, and 86 overseas locations in 55 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.

Updated: 08/05/2022