Young Alien Smuggler Who Injured Several People in High-Speed Chase Sent to Prison
LAREDO, Texas – A Rio Bravo man has been ordered to federal prison after he led police on a high-speed chase in a vehicle loaded with several illegal aliens before crashing into another vehicle and causing serious injuries to several Laredo residents, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez and Special Agent in Charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) San Antonio Field Office. Jovanni Rodarte, 20, pleaded guilty Dec. 8, 2016, admitting to conspiring to transport unlawful aliens and causing serious bodily injury.
Today, U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo sentenced Rodarte to 97 months in federal prison to be immediately followed by three years of supervised release. At the hearing, the court heard that Rodarte has been involved in gang violence while incarcerated and has had multiple encounters with law enforcement as a result of smuggling aliens. The government also described the incredible injuries that Rodarte inflicted on multiple innocent people. The court also heard from a victim’s wife who described the tremendous pain her husband has endured since the crash and the toll the crash has taken on her entire family. In handing down the sentence, Judge Marmolejo noted that she would be “entirely justified” in imposing the maximum under law. She added that despite given multiple opportunities, Rodarte had done nothing good with his life, but had instead immeasurably impacted multiple innocent peoples’ lives, including a mother and her son. Rodarte was also ordered to pay $192,997.20 in restitution to the victims.
"HSI is dedicated to working closely with all of our law enforcement partners to effectively in identify, arrest and prosecute individuals involved in exploiting people,” said Folden. "Criminals who illegally smuggle people into and throughout the country place personal profit ahead of public safety. For this reason, HSI will continue to utilize its broad authorities to dismantle human smuggling organizations."
On Oct. 5, 2016, Rodarte was transporting two illegal aliens when a Webb County Sheriff’s Officer attempted to affect a traffic stop. Instead of pulling over, Rodarte led several officers on a chase through the El Cenizo neighborhood of Laredo. During the chase, Rodarte drove more than 100 miles-per-hour in the residential area.
He crashed into a school fence and into a vehicle containing three Laredo residents, including a mother and son who were returning from a medical appointment. Law enforcement performed first-aid at the scene, but several of the vehicles’ occupants needed to be air-lifted to hospitals in Laredo and San Antonio. The three occupants in the vehicle Rodarte struck all sustained serious injuries that will require years of ongoing treatment.
One of the aliens was thrown from the vehicle Rodarte was driving and also sustained injuries. Rodarte, however, avoided any serious injuries from the crash.
He has been and remains in federal custody.
HSI conducted the investigation with the assistance of the U.S. Border Patrol. Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Howard is prosecuting the case.