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Press Release

Albuquerque man in federal court accused of transporting aliens in case resulting in death

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

              ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Elton Gastelum, 20, of Albuquerque, appeared for a detention hearing today in federal court where he is charged with transporting illegal aliens resulting in death. Gastelum will remain in custody pending trial.

​              According to a criminal complaint, on Sept. 18, Gastelum allegedly was transporting illegal aliens when he approached a Border Patrol checkpoint on New Mexico State Road 11. Gastelum allegedly attempted to circumvent the checkpoint by driving his vehicle northward in the southbound lane, and then fled from Border Patrol agents at a high rate of speed. Gastelum allegedly lost control of the vehicle, which rolled several times and caught fire. Six people were ejected from the vehicle, while the other four were extracted from the burning SUV. One of the aliens who had been in the vehicle died at the scene while another died later at the hospital.

              A complaint is only an allegation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. The maximum statutory penalty for this charge is up to life in prison or death.

            Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) investigated this case with assistance from the U.S. Border Patrol. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher S. McNair and Randy Castellano are prosecuting the case.

Updated November 3, 2021

Violent Crime
Press Release Number: 21-219