Human Smuggler Sentenced to 51 Months in Fatal Christmas Day Crash
For Further Information, Contact:
Assistant U. S. Attorneys Paul Benjamin (619) 546-7579 and Larry Casper (619) 546-6734
SAN DIEGO – Human smuggler Kevin Antonio Quevedo-Moncada, whose attempt to escape Border Patrol agents resulted in a Christmas-Day crash that killed one unauthized immigrant and seriously injured two others, was sentenced in federal court today to more than four years in prison.
When imposing the sentence, U.S. District Judge Cathy Ann Bencivengo said: “Human trafficking is a very serious offense. This case underscores the situation at its worst.” Judge Bencivengo also noted that, despite multiple opportunities to stop before the fatal crash, the defendant’s failure to do so coupled with the “nature and circumstances make this much more aggravated.”
Quevedo-Moncado, 23, pleaded guilty in October 2022, admitting that on December 25, 2021, he picked up three undocumented migrants hiding around Otay Mountain Wilderness, a remote area in San Diego County about 12 miles east of the city of Otay Mesa and just north of the Mexican border. When Border Patrol agents attempted to stop his car, Quevedo-Moncada sped into a nearby campground where he drove erratically, nearly hitting several Border Patrol cars. He escaped the campground by ramming a Border Patrol car positioned at the exit.
Quevedo-Moncado then continued to flee down a winding, dark rural road that was slick from the rain and lost control of the car, launching it off the road and into a tree, killing one of his passengers. The two other passengers, who both survived, were hospitalized in critical condition. One of them suffered, among other injuries, a broken jaw, a collapsed lung, eight rib fractures, and injuries to his spleen and kidneys, and had to be placed into a medically-induced coma before he was stabilized. CHP accident reconstructions showed that Quevedo-Moncado’s car was travelling at speeds of up to 93 miles per hour around a curve with a speed limit of 35 when he crashed. Please see photos below of the crashed vehicle, which were included with the government’s sentencing materials.
Quevedo-Moncada, who was not seriously hurt in the crash, pushed himself out through the windshield of his car and continued his effort to flee from Border Patrol agents. When they caught him, he continued to struggle to avoid being handcuffed. After his arrest, Quevedo-Moncada admitted he was being paid $2,000 to smuggle his passengers to Anaheim. Quevedo-Moncada also admitted that, following the crash, he heard one of his passengers moaning in pain and believed that the passenger was bleeding, but did not stop to help him. Quevedo-Moncado claimed that he did not assist because he did not know the man and because Quevedo-Moncado was also in pain.
“This was an aggravated crime motivated by profit and committed with no regard for human life,” said U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman. “The passengers were treated as disposable cargo with predictably tragic results. We will continue to hold unscrupulous human smugglers responsible for the consequences of their greedy and deadly actions.”
Grossman thanked the prosecution team and investigating agencies for their excellent work on this case.
“We are grateful for the hard work and tenacity that our Border Patrol agents and partners in the U.S. Attorney’s Office demonstrated in bringing this criminal to justice,” said San Diego Sector Chief Patrol Agent Aaron Heitke. “To prevent further tragedy, it is imperative that we continue holding smugglers and their transportation cells accountable for reckless and life-threatening behavior.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California helps lead Joint Task Force Alpha (JTFA), which was established by Attorney General Merrick B. Garland in June 2021 to marshal the investigative and prosecutorial resources of the Department of Justice, in partnership with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), to enhance U.S. enforcement efforts against the most prolific and dangerous human smuggling and trafficking groups operating in Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. The Task Force focuses on disrupting and dismantling smuggling and trafficking networks that abuse, exploit, or endanger migrants, pose national security threats, and are involved in organized crime. JTFA consists of federal prosecutors and attorneys from U.S. Attorney’s Offices along the Southwest Border, from the Criminal Division and the Civil Rights Division, along with law enforcement agents and analysts from DHS’s Homeland Security Investigations, Customs and Border Protection, and Border Patrol. The FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration are also part of the Task Force.
DEFENDANTS Case Number 22-CR-0038-CAB
Kevin Antonio Quevedo-Moncada Age: 23 Lake Forest, California
SUMMARY OF CHARGES
Transportation of Certain Aliens Resulting in Death – Title 8 U.S.C. Section 1324(a)(1)(A)(ii), (v)(II), and (a)(1)(B)(iv)
Maximum Penalties – Life in prison or death; $250,000 fine
Transportation of Certain Aliens Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury – Title 8 U.S.C. Section 1324(a)(1)(A)(ii), (v)(II), and (a)(1)(B)(iii)
Maximum Penalties – Twenty years in prison; $250,000 fine
United States Border Patrol
Federal Bureau of Investigation