The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas charged three Laredo men with allegedly crashing their vehicles while smuggling migrants to avoid arrest. Officials report a total of 29 migrants smuggled in the three pursuits which resulted in serious crashes.
U.S. Attorney Ryan Patrick charged three men who allegedly crashed their vehicles while smuggling illegal immigrants and attempting to avoid arrest. Each incident involved pursuits by law enforcement officials that allegedly ended in rollovers.
Francisco Javier Quiroga was charged with smuggling a group of migrants who illegally entered the U.S. According to court records, Border Patrol agents received information about 10 people “being loaded into a black SUV” near the Rio Grande on August 9. The agents approached the scene and witnessed people loading into the SUV. As the SUV began driving north away from the border river, agents activated their emergency lights and attempted a stop. The driver refused and fled, the criminal complaint states.
Border Patrol agents pursued the vehicle and contacted the Laredo Police Department for assistance. While trailing the fleeing SUV by about four blocks, agents observed a cloud of smoke. As they approached the scene, the agents reported that the vehicle crashed and rolled over, ejecting several passengers. The agents reportedly saw five people flee on foot, two more remained inside the SUV, and one person lay injured on the grass, the complaint continued. The agents eventually apprehended eight people including the alleged driver — Francisco Javier Quiroga, a 25-year-old U.S. citizen from Laredo. Agents say Quiroga told them “yo los levante” — “I picked them up.” Agents determined the seven occupants were “undocumented aliens illegally present in the United States.”
Officials identified four of the migrants as Mexican nationals, who reportedly admitted to paying smugglers to get them into the U.S. and then on to various cities across the country. One of the Mexican men sustained multiple injuries, to include a fractured sternum and three broken ribs.
Quiroga is charged with transporting an undocumented alien causing serious bodily harm. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000, U.S. Attorney Patrick’s office reported.
On August 2, Border Patrol agents arrested Oziel Rodriguez after he also allegedly crashed a vehicle, causing serious bodily injury while smuggling illegal immigrants. Patrick’s office reports that law enforcement officers in Laredo responded to a sensor alert indicating an illegal border crossing. As Border Patrol agents approached the scene, they observed a vehicle leaving the area. Officials say the vehicle attempted to flee but struck a center median and rolled over. The vehicle was overloaded with 12 people, including the 23-year-old Laredo man, prosecutors stated. Agents determined 11 of the vehicle’s occupants had illegally entered the U.S. Eight of those sustained serious bodily injuries, Patrick’s office reported.
Rodriguez allegedly fled the scene on foot but police later apprehended him and observed chest injuries consistent with the type of vehicle crash witnessed by the agents.
If convicted on the charge of transporting an undocumented alien causing serious bodily injury, Rodriguez also faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
The most recent charge of an incident involving an alleged Laredo smuggler and a rollover crash occurred on August 5, Patrick’s office reported Tuesday. The criminal complaint states that Laredo Sector Border Patrol agents observed a tan Suburban inside a locked ranch along U.S. Highway 83. Agents report that property owners saw the vehicle attempting to enter or actually entering the ranch on two other occasions. The ranch owners reported the SUV had no business being on or trying to enter the property. The agents observed the Suburban leaving the ranch and heading east along Highway 44, the complaint states.
A Texas Department of Public Safety trooper attempted to conduct a traffic stop on the SUV and the driver refused to yield. Prosecutors state the vehicle began to flee when it veered off the road an onto a ranch. The vehicle rolled several times and Border Patrol agents witnessed several people ejected. Agents placed the driver, officially identified as 28-year-old Laredo resident Adrian Zavala, under arrest.
A search of the area resulted in the apprehension of all 11 occupants. Agents identified the people as illegal immigrants from multiple countries. All 11 were transported to hospitals in Laredo and San Antonio.
Three of the migrants, a female Mexican, a male Salvadoran, and a male Mexican national, were held as material witnesses, the complaint states. The witnesses all reported being in fear for their lives during the pursuit and subsequent rollover. All three reportedly said they paid smugglers various amounts of money to reach destinations in California, Maryland, and Ohio.
Parick’s office reports that Zavala faces charges of transporting an undocumented alien and, if convicted, could face up to 10 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $200,000.