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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of California

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Alien Smuggler Pleads Guilty In Death Of Two Mexican Citizens

SAN DIEGO, CA – Nicholas George Zakov pleaded guilty to immigration crimes in federal court today, admitting that he acted with “extreme disregard” for the lives of two Mexican citizens who perished while being smuggled across the U.S.-Mexico border in Zakov’s trunk.

Zakov, 43, a U.S. citizen, admitted that on August 12, 2014, he attempted to transport two Mexican citizens, Tarcisio Casas-Blanco and Jose Aurelio Quiroz-Casas, into the United by hiding them within the trunk of his 2012 Dodge Challenger. Zakov was going to be paid $3,500 for his actions.

Zakov further admitted that he continued to drive the vehicle through the San Ysidro, California Port of Entry while ignoring the two Mexican citizens’ pleas to be let out of the trunk because of the extreme heat. At the Port of Entry, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers discovered the two Mexican citizens unresponsive in Zakov’s trunk. Casas-Blanco and Quiroz-Casas later died of hyperthermia and mechanical asphyxiation.

Zokov entered his plea before U.S. Magistrate Judge David H. Bartick. He pleaded guilty to two counts of encouraging and inducing illegal aliens resulting in death and two counts of bringing illegal aliens into the United States for financial gain. According to his plea agreement, Zakov admitted that Casas-Blanco and Quiroz-Casas died as a result of being concealed in his trunk.

Zakov faces up to life imprisonment, a mandatory minimum sentence of three years in prison, and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for April 10, 2015 before U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Battaglia.

DEFENDANT   Case Number: 14CR2363-AJB
Nicholas George Zakov Age: 43 Hawthorne, California
Counts 1 and 2:         Encouraging and Inducing Illegal Aliens, Aiding and Abetting, Resulting in Death, 8 U.S.C. §1324(a)(1)(A)(iv), (v)(II), and (a)(1)(B)(iv)

Counts 3 and 4:         Bringing in Illegal Aliens for Financial Gain, Aiding and Abetting 8 U.S.C. §1324(a)(2)(B)(ii) and 18 U.S.C. § 2


U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Homeland Security Investigations

Updated July 23, 2015