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Julio Garza IV pleaded guilty on February 15 and the U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez ordered him to serve 45 months in federal prison, 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 a death,” the news release stated.
Alvarez stressed that despite individuals like Garza thinking it’s acceptable to smuggle migrants because they willingly take the risk, it is, in fact, a crime that often results in harm to people.
“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 Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Rio Grande Valley Deputy Special Agent in Charge Mark Lippa.
The incident occurred on April 15, 2021, during a routine immigration traffic stop on US Hwy 281 near Falfurrias.
Law enforcement stopped a tan Ford Taurus, and when the vehicle pulled over, multiple people fled.
One Honduras man residing illegally in the United States was struck and killed by a passing box truck.
The investigation revealed that Garza had hired the truck driver to transport migrants from Edinburg to a location south of the Falfurrias Border Patrol checkpoint.
Garza communicated instructions through audio and text messages, as well as GPS coordinates, directing the smuggling operation.
Garza will be held in custody until his transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility, the location of which will be determined soon.
Hundreds of migrants are crossing the border from Mexico., using the Rio Grande and a system of ropes and human chains to get to the U.S.
This comes as U.S. cities in the north are facing dueling crises of growing migrant and homeless populations as temperatures begin to drop.