Valley man sent to prison for smuggling scheme resulting in death
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Texas
McALLEN, Texas – A 22-year-old Mission resident has been ordered to prison for conspiracy to transport undocumented aliens resulting in the death of one, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.
Julio Garza IV pleaded guilty Feb. 15.
U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez has now ordered Garza to serve 45 months in federal prison to be immediately followed by three years of supervised release. In handing down the sentence, the court commented on how it was important to remember someone died. The individual may have fled, but Garza was still accountable for a death. Judge Alvarez noted that people in Garza’s position convince themselves that smuggling aliens is okay because the person took the risk. However, she pointed out that it’s a crime and that this type of crime often results in people being injured.
On April 15, 2021, law enforcement conducted a routine immigration traffic stop on US Hwy 281 near Falfurrias on a tan Ford Taurus. When the vehicle stopped along the highway, multiple people fled.
A passing box truck struck and killed one of those individuals. Authorities determined he was a citizen of Honduras illegally residing in the United States.
The investigation revealed Garza had hired the driver to transport the undocumented aliens from Edinburg to a designated location south of the Falfurrias Border Patrol (BP) checkpoint. Garza sent audio and text messages as well as GPS coordinates in order to direct the smuggling operation.
Garza will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation with the assistance of Border Patrol. Assistant U.S. Attorney M. Alexis Garcia prosecuted the case.
Updated November 14, 2023