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Press Release

Federal Criminal Complaint Filed in Connection with Deaths of Illegal Aliens

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

In Del Rio today, federal authorities filed a criminal complaint charging 24-year-old Austin resident Sebastian Tovar with transporting illegal aliens resulting in death, announced U.S. Attorney Ashley C. Hoff and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge Shane Folden, San Antonio Division.

The federal criminal complaint alleges that on March 15, 2021, Tovar was traveling in a maroon pickup truck on FM 2523 near Del Rio when a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper attempted to stop him for speeding.  Tovar failed to stop and a pursuit ensued.  Tovar led the trooper on a chase for approximately 50 miles, at times reaching speeds over 100 miles per hour.  Traveling north into the southbound lane on Highway 277, Tovar collided with another vehicle head-on, resulting in the death of eight illegal aliens that had been in Tovar’s pickup truck.  The driver and passenger of the vehicle into which Tovar collided are hospitalized and in stable condition.

Furthermore, the complaint alleges that following the crash, Border Patrol agents on the scene encountered a beige pickup truck stopped in traffic on Highway 277 near the crash site.  While agents were directing traffic,  multiple occupants jumped out of the beige pickup and fled the scene.  Agents subsequently apprehended twelve illegal aliens who fled that truck.  Two of the illegal aliens, both Mexican citizens, confirmed they were part of a failed human smuggling attempt in which the group illegally crossed into the U.S. and were divided between the maroon and beige pickup trucks for transport purposes.

Tovar, who remains in federal custody, faces up to life in federal prison upon conviction. 

HSI and the Texas Department of Public Safety, with the assistance of the U.S. Border Patrol, are conducting this ongoing investigation.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Joshua Banister is prosecuting this case.

A criminal complaint is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt.  The defendant is considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.



Media Relations
(210) 384-7257

Updated March 17, 2021

Human Smuggling
Violent Crime