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Human Smuggling/Trafficking

Smuggler linked to rollover that caused 10 deaths receives life sentence

PHOENIX - A convicted human smuggler from Michoacán, Mexico, was sentenced to life in prison today for causing a fatal rollover collision near Yuma, Ariz., nearly two years ago that claimed the lives of 10 people, including a pregnant woman and her unborn child.

Adan Pineda-Doval, 22, appeared before U.S. District Judge Stephen M. McNamee who sentenced the defendant to life imprisonment on each of the 10 counts of transporting illegal aliens resulting in death. In addition, the Judge sentenced Pineda-Doval to 20 years for transporting illegal aliens and placing their lives in jeopardy, and two years for re-entering the United States after deportation. All of the sentences will be served concurrently.

Pineda-Doval was found guilty by a federal jury in October last year on federal charges for causing a deadly vehicle accident that occurred while he transporting 20 illegal aliens, including two pregnant women, to Los Angeles. The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), U.S. Customs and Border Protection Border Patrol (Yuma Sector), with assistance from the Yuma County Sheriff's Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

"This smuggler jeopardized human lives for personal profit. His 'criminal business' and personal greed resulted in the loss of ten lives here," said Diane Humetewa, United States Attorney for Arizona. "I applaud the jury's verdict and the law enforcement efforts that resulted in his conviction and the life sentence."

"This sentence sends a resounding message to those in the human smuggling trade who cavalierly put people's lives in harm's way just to turn a profit," said Troy Henley, acting special agent in charge for the ICE office of investigations in Phoenix. "ICE will continue to work closely with its law enforcement partners here in Arizona to see that those individuals and organizations involved in this ruthless enterprise are made to pay for the suffering and loss of life they cause."

The seats in the Chevrolet Suburban Pineda-Doval was driving had been removed and none of the passengers was wearing a seat belt. After being confronted by a Border Patrol agent who was patrolling a dirt road used to bypass the Border Patrol checkpoint on Highway 95, Pineda-Doval refused to stop, despite pleas by his passengers. When another agent attempted to stop the vehicle using a tire deflation device, Pineda-Doval abruptly swerved, veered off the road, and swerved again in the opposite direction, causing the vehicle to roll and eject many of the occupants. Ten of the passengers died. Pineda-Doval was arrested after witnesses identified him as the driver.