Skip to main content
November 15, 2023McAllen, TX, United StatesHuman Smuggling/Trafficking

HSI Rio Grande Valley, federal partner investigation results in the sentencing of a south Texas man for smuggling scheme resulting in death

MCALLEN, Texas — A local man was sentenced to prison for conspiracy to transport noncitizens resulting in the death of one, following an investigation conducted by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) with the assistance of U.S Border Patrol.

Julio Garca IV, 22, was sentenced on Nov. 14 to 45 months in federal prison to be immediately followed by three years of supervised release. In handing down the sentence, the court commented on how it was important to remember someone died. The individual may have fled, but Garza was still accountable for the death. The judge noted that people in Garza’s position convince themselves that smuggling undocumented noncitizens is okay because the person took the risk. However, she pointed out that it’s a crime and that this type of crime often results in people being injured. Garza pleaded guilty Feb. 15.

“The tragic loss of life in this case is an example of the very real risks people face when they put their lives in the hands of smugglers,” said HSI Rio Grande Valley Deputy Special Agent in Charge Mark Lippa. “Those responsible for illegally moving people through our country place personal profit ahead of public safety. Driven by greed, these criminals have little regard for the health and well-being of their human cargo, which can be a deadly combination.”

According to court documents, on April 15, 2021, law enforcement conducted a routine immigration traffic stop on U.S Highway 281 near Falfurrias on a tan Ford Taurus. When the vehicle stopped along the highway, multiple people fled. A passing box truck struck and killed one of those individuals. Authorities determined he was a citizen of Honduras illegally residing in the United States.

The investigation revealed Garza had hired the driver to transport the undocumented noncitizens from Edinburg to a designated location south of the Falfurrias Border Patrol checkpoint. Garza sent audio and text messages as well as GPS coordinates to direct the smuggling operation.

Garza remains in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility.

Assistant U.S. Attorney M. Alexis Garcia of the Southern District of Texas prosecuted the case.

HSI San Antonio continues to address the serious public safety threat posed by human smuggling organizations and their reckless disregard for the health and safety of the people they exploit. To report suspicious smuggling activity, you are urged to call 866-348-2423.

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 more than 8,700 employees consists of more than 6,000 special agents assigned to 237 cities throughout the United States, and 93 overseas locations in 56 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: 11/15/2023