DEL RIO, Texas — Federal authorities on Tuesday charged five individuals for their roles in a South Texas smuggling scheme that resulted in the deaths of five illegal aliens.
These charges were announced by the following agency heads: U.S. Attorney John F. Bash, Western District of Texas; Special Agent in Charge Shane Folden, U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); U.S. Border Patrol Del Rio Sector Chief Patrol Agent Felix Chavez, and Dimmit County (Texas) Sheriff Marion Boyd.
A federal complaint charges the defendants with transporting illegal aliens and conspiracy to transport and harbor illegal aliens resulting in serious bodily injury and death. Upon conviction, the offense is punishable by life imprisonment or death, a $250,000 fine, and five years of supervised release.
On June 17, 2018, U.S. Border Patrol agents initiated immigration inspections on three vehicles – a 2013 Tahoe, a 2007 Suburban, and a 2008 Tahoe – traveling in a convoy on FM 2644 between El Indio and Carrizo Springs, Texas.
According to the criminal complaint, the 2013 Tahoe yielded while the other two led Border Patrol agents and Dimmit County Sheriff’s deputies on high-speed chases. While traveling east bound on Highway 85, Jorge Luis Monsivais Jr., 20, of Eagle Pass, Texas, the driver of the 2007 Suburban, crashed as he entered the town of Big Wells, Texas. According to the complaint, Monsivais was traveling with 13 suspected illegal aliens – including one juvenile – at the time of the crash. Four of them died at the scene. Nine were transported to a hospital for medical care. One died on the way to the hospital. One was released to the custody of the U.S. Border Patrol after receiving medical attention.
Seven remain hospitalized, including the juvenile.
The criminal complaint alleges that the driver of the 2008 Tahoe evaded law enforcement before purposefully coming to a stop. Several people absconded from the vehicle. U.S. Border Patrol agents detained the driver, a 17-year-old juvenile, and captured 10 suspected illegal aliens in the area.
In addition to Monsivais, the criminal complaint charges the following individuals as conspirators in the smuggling venture: the driver of the 2013 Tahoe, 55-year-old Mexican citizen Marcial Gomez Santana; and occupants, 45-year-old Mexican citizen Mariela Reyna; Marcial’s son, 21-year-old Rudy Gomez of Hockley, Texas; and, Marcial’s daughter, 19-year-old Johana Gomez of Houston, Texas. All five charged in the federal criminal complaint remain in custody.
Of the 23 illegal aliens involved in this scheme, 21 are Mexican nationals and two are Honduran nationals.
At this time, six of the 23 illegal aliens are being held on federal complaints as material witnesses. This investigation continues. No other federal charges have been filed. The juvenile driver is in the custody of Dimmit County authorities.
Homeland Security Investigations is leading this investigation with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Border Patrol Del Rio Sector, and the Dimmit County Sheriff’s Office.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Harle, Western District of Texas, is prosecuting this case.
A criminal complaint is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt. The defendants are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.