5 suspected human smugglers charged in fatal high-speed chase, crash

5 immigrants killed Sunday in Dimmitt County, 9 injured

By David Ibanez - Web - Managing Editor

DEL RIO, Texas - Updated July 18:

A federal grand jury in Del Rio indicted the five suspects. 

Original story:

Five people were charged Tuesday in a federal courtroom in Del Rio in connection with a high-speed chase and crash that killed five immigrants in Dimmit County, officials said.

According to a federal complaint, 20-year-old Jorge Luis Monsivais Jr., of Eagle Pass; Marcial Gomez Santana, 55, a Mexican national; Mariela Reyna, 45, a Mexican national; Rudy Gomez, 21, of Hockley; and Johana Gomez, 19, of Houston, are charged with transporting illegal aliens and conspiracy to transport and harbor illegal aliens resulting in serious bodily injury and death. Marcial Gomez Santana is the father of Rudy and Johana Gomez.

The complaint said that on June 17, U.S. Border Patrol agents initiated immigration inspections on a 2013 Chevrolet Tahoe, a 2007 Chevrolet Suburban and a 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe that were traveling in a convoy on FM 2644 between El Indio and Carrizo Springs.

The 2013 Tahoe yielded while the drivers of the other two vehicles led agents and Dimmit County sheriff’s deputies on high-speed chases, the complaint said. 

Monsivais was traveling east bound on Highway 85 in the 2007 Suburban with 13 immigrants, including a juvenile, when he crashed at the entrance of the town of Big Wells, the complaint said. 

Four immigrants died at the scene, one died on the way to a hospital and nine were taken to a hospital, the complaint said. Seven victims, including a juvenile, remained hospitalized Tuesday.

The driver of the 2008 Tahoe, a 17-year-old, evaded law enforcement authorities before coming to a stop, officials said. The driver was detained and 10 immigrants who had fled the vehicle were captured.

Of the 23 immigrants, 21 are from Mexico and two from Honduras. Six of them are being held on federal complaints as material witnesses. 

The juvenile driver is in custody of Dimmit County authorities.

If the suspects are convicted in a trial, they could face the death penalty or life in prison, a $250,000 fine and five years of supervised release, officials said.

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