LAREDO, Texas – A 49-year-old Nicaraguan citizen illegally in the United States has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transport undocumented aliens, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.
On June 6, 2022, Arling Antonio Gutierrez-Garcia drove a semi-tractor pulling a belly dump trailer with 63 citizens from Mexico and Guatemala. The metal trailer was covered with a vinyl tarp, thereby eliminating air circulation and increasing temperatures which led to the aliens’ distress.
Gutierrez-Garcia noticed them jumping out the trailer from a tear in the tarp they had made. He then stopped the semi-tractor in west Webb County on a private ranch road where law enforcement saw him standing by the cab.
Law enforcement and medical personnel provided assistance to the individuals located in the trailer and brush. One alien was found at the bottom of the trailer’s pit and pronounced dead at the scene.
Authorities apprehended Gutierrez-Garcia in the brush, at which time he claimed he was being transported with the others. However, the investigation revealed he was the driver of the vehicle.
“Transporting dozens of human beings in a vinyl-covered all metal trailer in the South Texas summer heat demonstrates the callousness and indifference of smugglers to human life,” said Hamdani. “The sweltering heat that built up in this vehicle which was designed not for people, but for hauling sand, rock and other materials maximized the potential for injury and the eventual and tragic death of one of the victims. This defendant will now face substantial consequences for his inhumane crime.”
U.S. District Judge Diana Saldaña accepted the plea and will impose sentencing at a later date. At that hearing, Gutierrez-Garcia faces up to life in federal prison and a possible $250,000 fine.
He has been and will remain in custody pending sentencing.
Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation with the assistance of Border Patrol, Sheriff’s Offices in Webb and Dimmit Counties, Webb County District Attorney’s Office, Texas Department of Public Safety and Texas Highway Patrol. Assistant U.S. Attorney Homero Ramirez is prosecuting the case.