Dec. 3, 2009
THREE IN CUSTODY AFTER VEHICLE ACCIDENT IN JIM WELLS COUNTY
(CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas) – Three United States citizens are in federal custody charged with transporting undocumented aliens after an accident that injured 17 undocumented aliens and the alleged driver of the vehicle, United States Attorney Tim Johnson announced today.
Patricio Rebollar Jr., 28, of Houston, who was found at the scene of the accident in Jim Wells County, was hospitalized following the accident and thereafter arrested on Nov. 24, 2009. Herman Valdez, 29, and Nancy Martinez, 25, both of Houston, were arrested the following day in Houston. All three are charged by criminal complaint in the Corpus Christi Division of the Southern District of Texas with transporting undocumented aliens.
The charge stems from a single vehicle accident in Jim Wells County investigated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, United States Border Patrol, Jim Wells County Sheriff’s Department and the Texas Department of Public Safety.
According to allegations in the criminal complaint, on Nov. 24, 2009, a pickup truck left the roadway and drove through a fence before going over a 40-foot embankment resulting in injuries to the 18 persons in the vehicle. Rebollar was allegedly the driver of the vehicle. The 17 passengers were determined to be undocumented aliens from Mexico and Guatemala. All 18 individuals were transported to area hospitals due to injuries they sustained as a result of the accident. Through further investigation, officers identified a Dodge Charger which, according to the complaint, served as a scout vehicle traveling with the pickup truck. A “scout vehicle” is one often used to divert law enforcement during illegal smuggling operations. Valdez and Martinez allegedly occupied the scout vehicle and were arrested at a residence in Houston.
Of the 17 undocumented aliens involved in the accident, five remain hospitalized with serious injuries and all others have been treated and released into federal custody.
All three defendants are presently in federal custody. Rebollar, who was treated and released from a Corpus Christi area hospital, was ordered detained without bond pending further criminal proceedings this morning by U.S. Magistrate Judge B. Janice Ellington. Valdez and Martinez remain in federal custody in Houston pending the continuation of a detention hearing which began on Wednesday, Dec. 2, and will resume on Monday, Dec. 7, 2009.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lance Watt.
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