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Press Release

Douglas Man Sentenced to 130 Months for Alien Smuggling Resulting in Death

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Arizona

TUCSON, Ariz. – Manuel Victor Gastelum, 27, of Douglas, was sentenced last week by United States District Court Judge Rosemary Márquez to 130 months in prison followed by five years of supervised release. Gastelum pleaded guilty to Transportation of Illegal Aliens for Profit Resulting in Death on January 31, 2024. Gastelum also was sentenced to 12 months in prison for violating conditions of his federal probation from a prior alien smuggling conviction.

On December 4, 2020, Gastelum picked up eight undocumented noncitizens near the border to transport them further into the United States. While driving westbound on Interstate 10 near Vail, Gastelum began driving recklessly and lost control of the vehicle, rolling it multiple times. A 42-year-old male passenger was ejected from the vehicle and subsequently pronounced dead at the scene. Several other passengers were transported to the hospital with serious injuries. Gastelum fled from the crash on foot but was apprehended later that morning several miles away.

Gastelum had previously been convicted of Transportation of Aliens for Profit Placing Life in Jeopardy in 2019 after he fled from law enforcement and crashed at a gas station while transporting undocumented noncitizens. For that conviction, Gastelum was sentenced to 18 months in prison and three years of supervised release. He violated his conditions of supervised release by committing this new offense three months after his release from federal prison.

When imposing the 130-month sentence, Judge Márquez emphasized that a long sentence was necessary to protect the public.

Homeland Security Investigations, Tucson, conducted the investigation in this case, with the assistance of the Arizona Department of Public Safety. The United States Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, Tucson, handled the prosecution.

CASE NUMBER:            CR-21-00516-TUC-RM-MAA
RELEASE NUMBER:    2024-088_Gastelum

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Public Affairs
Zach J. Stoebe
Telephone: (602) 514-7413

Updated July 5, 2024

Human Smuggling
Press Release Number: 2024-088_Gastelum