Two of the people accused
of taking part in a smuggling scheme that led to the deaths of 19 illegal
aliens in Texas have been convicted of multiple charges in the case, the U.S.
Attorney’s Office in Houston announced recently.
According to U.S. Attorney
Michael Shelby, sentencing is scheduled for March 28, 2005, for the two men,
Fredy Giovanni Garcia-Tobar, 25, Harlingen, TX, and Victor Jesus Rodriguez, 38,
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 19 of them died. Law enforcement officials said that the truck
driver, 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.
Fourteen people were
identified as suspects in the case; prosecutors have said most were part of the
smuggling ring that brought the 74 aliens into the country. A massive
investigation was conducted by the Houston, San Antonio, Harlingen, Brownsville
and McAllen, TX, offices of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; the U.S.
Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of the Inspector General;
the Texas Department of Public Safety; the Texas Rangers; the Victoria County
Sheriff's Department; the McAllen Police Department; the Harlingen Police
Department; and the Victoria Police Department.
Garcia-Tobar and Rodriguez
were convicted of: conspiracy to transport aliens unlawfully in the United
States in a way that resulted in injury or death; helping conceal and transport
19 of the surviving aliens in a way that resulted in injury; and aiding and
abetting the unlawful transportation of the 19 aliens who died. Both faced 58
counts, and could be imprisoned for life.
The driver of the truck –
Williams, 31, a resident of Schenectady, NY – could face the death penalty if
he is convicted of the charges he faces in the case. His trial is scheduled for
Jan. 5, 2005.