Fugitive caught in immigrant smuggling case

| 4/30/2004

The last fugitive accused in the human smuggling operation that led to the suffocation deaths of 19 people was picked up at a traffic stop, The Associated Press reported.

Investigators say 24-year-old Fredy Giovanni Garcia-Tobar of Guatemala is one of 14 suspects in custody in Mexico and the United States and charged with loading at least 70 illegal immigrants into an airless tractor-trailer last May.

Garcia-Tobar, also known as Alfredo Garcia, was arrested April 26. At an initial court appearance, he was ordered transferred to Houston. He will be held without bail.

Garcia-Tobar is accused of helping recruit truck driver Tyrone Williams to transport the immigrants from houses near the Mexican border to Houston.

Williams abandoned the trailer at a truck stop in Victoria, TX, 100 miles southwest of Houston, May 14. Seventeen immigrants were found dead inside the trailer, and two others later died. The victims, including a 5-year-old Mexican boy, died from dehydration, hyperthermia and suffocation.