arrested the suspected leader of a smuggling operation that killed
19 and trapped dozens of immigrants in a stifling truck trailer
last month, federal prosecutors said Monday, The Associated Press reported.
announcing the arrest, U.S. Attorney Michael Shelby also unsealed
a 58-count indictment accusing Karla Patricia Chavez, 25, and 13
others of having roles in the smuggling mission that ended May 14
when a truckload of immigrants was discovered in a trailer abandoned
at a truckstop in Victoria, TX, 100 miles southwest of Houston.
immigrants died at the scene, and two others died later.
group of more than 70 immigrants from Mexico, Central American and
the Dominican Republic were being transported in a tractor-trailer
from South Texas to Houston when they died. The truckdriver, Tyrone
Williams, left the trailer in the early morning hours of May 14.
victims died from dehydration, hypothermia and suffocation. Among
the victims was a 5-year-old boy from Mexico.
prosecutors said June 16 Chavez was arrested trying to enter her
native Honduras from Guatemala. Authorities in Guatemala deported
her to the United States Saturday, and U.S. immigration agents arrested
her in Houston hours later.
arrested was Claudia Carrizales de Villa, 34, a Mexican citizen
who lives in Harlingen, TX. Prosecutors said she was to appear in
a Brownsville, TX, federal courtroom Monday afternoon.
indictment accuses 12 people of being members of four smuggling
rings. They are charged with various counts of conspiracy to conceal
or transport immigrants.
addition to the 12, two others, Victor Sanchez Rodriguez, 55, and
his wife, Emma Rodriguez, 57, of Brownsville, are charged with crimes
related to the operation but are not considered ring members. They
are accused of allowing some immigrants to sleep at their home the
night before the truck trip.
of the 14, including Williams, are in federal custody. Rodriguez
and his wife are fugitives, as are Alfredo Garcia, 23, a Guatemalan
citizen who lives in Harlingen; Octavio Torres Ortega, 37, of Mexico;
and Rosa Sarrata Gonzalez, 48, of San Benito, TX.
of the immigrants who survived the ordeal in the trailer were taken
into custody by federal authorities, and most have since been freed
on bond. Prosecutors have said those determined to be key witnesses
in subsequent trials probably would be given temporary visas to
stay in the United States. The others would be sent back to their