Laredoans Sent to Prison for Rollover Incident that Led to Death
LAREDO, Texas – Three smugglers have been sentenced to federal prison for transporting illegal aliens that resulted in one death, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick. One alien died and two others received injuries resulting from a vehicle rollover.
Guillermo Venegas, 19, pleaded guilty Sept. 1, 2016, while Edgardo Diaz, 20, and Antonio Aguilar, 20, entered their pleas April 6 and June 24, 2016, respectively.
Today, U.S. District Judge Diana Saldaña ordered Venegas to serve 70 months, while Diaz and Aguilar each received 87-month-terms of federal imprisonment. Venegas, Diaz and Aguilar will also serve supervised release terms of three, five and four years, respectively, following their sentences. In handing down the sentences, Judge Saldaña noted that it was unfortunate the defendants had chosen to become involved in such a serious crime which resulted in the death of one undocumented alien and injuries to others. After statements from each defendant expressing remorse for the events, the court noted that each attempted to downplay their roles by recruiting other persons and that they demonstrated poor judgment in recruiting or involving juveniles. On several occasions, Judge Saldaña reminded the defendants that “the reality is that someone died.”
At the time of their pleas, the three admitted to conspiring to transport three aliens to Laredo. Aguilar recruited Venegas to transport the aliens. Venegas then recruited a juvenile to drive and use his parent’s van as the load vehicle.
During the early evening of Jan. 31, 2016, the three defendants set out on Mines Road in three separate vehicles to locate and pick up aliens who had just crossed from Mexico by wading the Rio Grande River. Diaz and Aguilar scouted for law enforcement in their respective vehicles, while communicating with Aguilar who was in the van providing directions to the juvenile driver.
After arriving at the pick-up location and determining the area was clear of law enforcement, Venegas and the juvenile picked up three aliens and drove towards Laredo, while Diaz and Aguilar continued to monitor contact with law enforcement.
Border Patrol (BP) agents in marked units encountered the van, but Venegas and the juvenile failed to stop, attempted to cross the median at a high rate of speed and overturned. Venegas and two alien passengers were injured, while another alien died at the scene.
The defendants have been and will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
The Webb County District Attorney’s Office prosecuted the juvenile driver and two others.
BP, Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, Texas Department of Public Safety, Laredo Police Department and the Webb County Medical Examiner conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Homero Ramirez prosecuted the case.