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Aug. 6, 2012

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Houston Man Convicted of Alien Transportation

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas - Leonel Alvaro Abundis-Carreon, 22, of Houston, has pleaded guilty for conspiring to transport 14 aliens within the United States and causing serious bodily injury to a person, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. Abundis-Carreon was driving a truck loaded with several illegal aliens, one of whom was killed.

As part of the factual summary read in court today, the court learned that on Feb. 9, 2012, at approximately 6:10 a.m., Falfurrias Border Patrol (BP) agents were advised to be on the lookout for a white Ford F 250 pickup truck that was possibly involved in alien smuggling. Moments later, agents witnessed a white Chevrolet pickup truck traveling north on Farm to Market Road (FM) 1538 in Brooks County, Texas.

Several people were observed in the cab with several more ducking down in the bed of the truck. When agents began to follow the truck, it sped off at a high rate of speed. BP agents activated their emergency lights and siren, but the truck continued to travel north on FM 1538 until it merged onto County Road (CR) 417. The driver then turned off the headlights and drove straight through a fence and into a privately owned ranch. Agents followed the truck=s dust cloud and located it facing south on the opposite side of the fence line. 

When agents exited their vehicle, they saw several injured individuals laying on the ground near the truck. A deceased person was pinned under the front tire of the truck and another was   pinned under the rear axle of the truck who appeared to still be breathing but unresponsive. At the scene, agents located seven individuals, three of whom were airlifted to the hospital. Near the crash site, BP agents located seven more individuals involved in the crash. 

Abundis admitted to Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) agents that he was the driver of the truck and that he was being paid $125 for each alien being smuggled.

During the hearing today, the court also learned that one of the aliens suffered a broken pelvis which is expected to prevent him from walking for at least six months. The person found under the rear axle suffered third degree burns on his legs and a third alien suffered an injury to his eye that required surgery.

U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzalez-Ramos, who accepted the guilty plea today, has set sentencing for Oct. 30, 2012, at which time Abundis-Carreon faces up to 20 years in prison and a possible $250,000 fine. He has been in custody since his arrest, where he will remain pending that hearing.

The case was investigated by agents from Homeland Security Investigations and BP. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Hugo R. Martinez.