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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ANGELA DODGE

April 17, 2012

PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICER
(713) 567-9388

Six Charged With Harboring Aliens
Nine of the Aliens Later Killed During Transport

McALLEN, Texas – Five of the six people arrested last week in relation to the fatal rollover in Palmview, Texas, have made their initial appearances and been ordered detained pending further criminal proceedings, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today.

Gloria Solis, 25, and Luis Julian Vargas, 19, both of Mission, Alexander Barrios-Grajales, 26, Alejandro Garcia-Nava, 18, and Jose Vega-Zapata, 35, all Mexican nationals residing in Mission, Texas, were arrested April 11, 2012, and appeared for a detention hearing today, at which time United States Magistrate Peter E. Ormsby ordered them into custody. Carmelo Diaz-Gopar, 24, of Mexico, was arrested on April 10, 2012, and is set for a detention hearing Thursday, April 19, at 2:00 p.m.

Nine of 16 aliens were killed. They had been picked up from the stash house where they had allegedly been harbored and were subsequently being transported to another destination within the United States. 

According to the criminal complaint, U.S. Border Patrol agents attempted to conduct a traffic stop on a mini-van suspected of transporting undocumented aliens. The mini-van initially stopped on the side of the road in Palmview, at which time Diaz-Gopar exited from the van and ran away in an attempt to elude agents. He was apprehended shortly thereafter. The driver of the van then drove away at a high rate of speed and was involved in a single car accident just a short distance from the location of the original stop. A total of sixteen undocumented aliens were being transported in the min-van at the time of the accident. Nine were killed and the others were taken to local hospitals to seek medical treatment. Several law enforcement agencies responded to the scene of the accident.

After further investigation, according to the complaint, it was believed that additional undocumented aliens were still being harbored at a stash house in Mission. Immigration and Customs Enforcement – Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI) agents and others subsequently conducted a consensual search of the stash house, wherein they discovered 12 additional aliens in the residence, along with Solis, Barrios-Grajales and Garcia-Nava.

After further investigation, Vega-Zapata and Vargas were also apprehended for their involvement in the alien harboring. Some of the undocumented aliens provided statements to agents whereby they implicated the defendants and their involvement in the alien harboring, according to the complaint. 

The investigation is being conducted by ICE-HSI with the assistance of Border Patrol. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Linda Requénez.

A criminal complaint is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.