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Human Smuggling/Trafficking

Mexican man sentenced in southeast Texas to nearly 5 years in federal prison for alien smuggling which resulted in a death

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A Mexican man was sentenced Thursday to four years and nine months in federal prison following his conviction for alien smuggling that led to the death of a 40-year-old Mexican national, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas. The investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Modesto Aguilar-Hernandez, 20, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzalez Ramos to a total of 57 months in federal prison to be followed by a three-year term of supervised release. Aguilar pleaded guilty to the charges Sept. 20. He is expected to be deported after he serves his prison sentence.

At the plea hearing, Aguilar admitted that May 22 he was unlawfully transporting about 13 illegal aliens to Houston in a pick-up truck. He was driving on Farm-to-Market Road 771 in Kleberg County when a sheriff's deputy attempted to stop him for a traffic violation. Trying to evade the deputy, Aguilar led him on a high-speed chase that ended with the truck being driven into an open field through several barbed-wire fences. The victim was located in the bed of the truck where it is believed that one of the loose barbed wires severed his leg. When Aguilar eventually stopped the vehicle, almost all the occupants fled into the nearby brush. The victim and his son remained at the scene where the victim eventually expired due to blood loss.

U.S. Border Patrol agents and local law enforcement officers located 11 of the illegal aliens in the brush. Aguilar admitted to law enforcement officers that he was the driver of the truck, and that he came to Falfurrias to pick up and transport a group of illegal aliens to Houston. The illegal aliens were interviewed and provided details regarding the smuggling attempt, including that they yelled at Aguilar to slow down after he had accelerated rapidly in his attempt to evade the deputy.

Aguilar has been in custody since his arrest May 22, where he will remain pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

Assistant U.S Attorney Sam Brown IV, Southern District of Texas, prosecuted the case.