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Press Release

Mexican man sentenced for role in smuggling attempt that led to rollover accident

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

LAREDO, Texas – A 30-year-old Mexican national has been ordered to federal prison for his involvement in a conspiracy to transport undocumented aliens, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.

Ruben Ernesto Mendoza-Zapata pleaded guilty Jan. 7.

Today, U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo handed Mendoza-Zapata a 41-month term of imprisonment. Not a U.S. citizen, he is expected to face removal proceedings after serving his sentence.

On Oct. 7, 2019, authorities observed a group of individuals crossing from the Mexican side of Falcon Lake via boat and entering a red Ford Explorer in the United States. They located the SUV and attempted to get behind it. However, the driver - later identified as Mendoza-Zapata - fled the scene at a high rate of speed. During the pursuit, Mendoza-Zapata tried rounding a curve, but rolled the vehicle several times.

Law enforcement secured the scene and rescued the occupants, one of whom was pinned underneath the vehicle. At the time of the rollover, a 6-year-old boy was also in the SUV.

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

Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation with the assistance of Border Patrol. Assistant U.S. Attorney David Fawcett prosecuted the case.

Updated July 1, 2020

Human Smuggling