In San Antonio this afternoon, 31-year-old Javier Silva-Morales, a resident of Monterrey, Mexico, and 25–year-old Jose Abram Lopez-Lozano, a resident of Michoacàn, Mexico, pleaded guilty to smuggling undocumented aliens announced United States Attorney Robert Pitman and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge Vincent Iglio.
Appearing before United States District Judge Xavier Rodriguez, the driver of the vehicle, Silva-Morales, pleaded guilty to one count of smuggling undocumented aliens resulting in death. His accomplice, Lopez-Lozano, pleaded guilty to one count of smuggling undocumented aliens for financial gain. By pleading guilty, both admitted to transporting smuggled undocumented aliens on February 6, 2013, from Falfurrias, TX, to Houston when a Wilson County Sheriff’s deputy attempted to conduct a traffic stop near Poth, TX. A vehicle chase ensued. After losing sight of the vehicle, deputies subsequently discovered several individuals at the end of an open field standing on top of what appeared to be the same vehicle which was now submerged under water. A total of 13 individuals, including both defendants, were apprehended by sheriff’s deputies with assistance from Texas Department of Public Safety troopers. HSI agents later determined that the 13 were in the United States without proper documentation and placed them under arrest. A Texas Department of Public Safety dive team dispatched to the scene recovered three bodies from the bottom of the water near the vehicle.
Silva-Morales faces a prison sentence of 12 and a half years; Lopez-Lozano, up to ten years in federal prison. Both remain in federal custody pending sentencing which is scheduled for 1:30pm on June 26, 2013, before Judge Rodriguez.
This case was investigated by HSI, the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office. Special Assistant United States Attorney Christina Playton is prosecuting this case on behalf of the Government.