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Press Release

Local smuggler sentenced after high-speed ride left six hospitalized

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

BROWNSVILLE, Texas – A 30-year-old Brownsville man has been sent to federal prison following his conviction of transporting undocumented aliens within the United States for private financial gain, announced U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.

Manuel Hernandez Jr. pleaded guilty April 13.

Today, U.S. District Judge Rolando Olvera ordered Hernandez to serve 57 months in federal prison to be immediately followed by three years of supervised release. At the hearing, the court heard how surveillance video caught Hernandez racing past Garden Park Elementary at 96 mph in a red Chevy Tahoe just 30 minutes before school release.

Seconds later, additional surveillance video shows Hernandez crashing into another vehicle while Hernandez was seen fleeing on foot. The court heard additional testimony regarding the life threatening injuries the other driver sustained - a punctured lung, a damaged vocal cord, severe head trauma, four broken ribs, a broken clavicle, a broken scapula and broken teeth. The government also presented evidence detailing three separate occasions Hernandez admitted to smuggling illegal aliens. In handing down the sentence, the court noted Hernandez will be responsible for paying restitution.

The investigation began after law enforcement saw several individuals circumventing a port of entry and entering a nearby Chevrolet Tahoe. Hernandez was driving the vehicle when it departed from the area at nearly 100 m.p.h.

Hernandez was captured on surveillance video racing past an elementary school and crashing into another vehicle which resulted in the hospitalization of six people. He fled from the scene, but authorities later located him and took him into custody.

Hernandez has been and will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

Border Patrol and the Brownsville Police Department conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Megan Eyes prosecuted the case.

Updated September 21, 2022

Human Smuggling