EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Two brothers – one who was paying off his debt to smugglers and another getting paid for driving unauthorized migrants from El Paso to Albuquerque – are facing federal charges in connection with last week’s fatal crash in Santa Teresa, New Mexico.
Julio Garcia Rascon and his brother Jorge Garcia Rascon are each facing a charge of “conspiracy to smuggle illegal aliens resulting in death” in U.S. District Court in New Mexico.
The charges stem from the July 27 rollover crash on McNutt Road that killed two Mexican nationals and sent nine others to University Medical Center in El Paso.
Federal court documents obtained by Border Report showed the driver, Julio Garcia, had orders from the migrant smuggling organization that hired him not to stop if law enforcement attempted to pull him over.
Julio Garcia is also facing state charges in New Mexico: two counts of homicide by vehicle; 10 counts of causing great bodily injury by vehicle; and reckless driving.
The tan Chevrolet Tahoe with Mississippi plates was carrying a total of 13 people, including the driver and his brother, whom the Mexican Foreign Ministry earlier referred to as the “co-pilot.”
Federal court documents say the brothers popped in the U.S. Border Patrol radar when agents spotted the SUV with Mississippi tags proceeding west on New Mexico Highway 9 near Peter Domenici Freeway, then coming back eastbound. The agents noticed the vehicle was riding low the second time around as if weighed down.
The complaint says the agents tried to stop the vehicle for a check, but the driver failed to yield and sped up along Pete Domenici – a road that starts at the Santa Teresa U.S. Port of Entry and turns into Artcraft Road near the Texas state line. Artcraft leads onto Interstate 10.
Federal court documents state that the Border Patrol “ceased pursuit” and turned off sirens and emergency lights at Pete Domenici Freeway upon seeing the driver speed away. The driver lost control on McNutt and Airport Road and the vehicle flipped and rolled off the road.
The crash killed 24-year-old Jorge Garcia Vazquez and 18-year-old Guadalupe Cruz Vazquez, both of Mexico. Federal officials say both of the Garcia Rascon brothers attempted to run away after the crash but were apprehended.
Both brothers were read their Miranda rights by law enforcement and allegedly agreed to answer questions without the presence of an attorney. Court documents state Jorge Garcia Rascon said he and his brother were smuggled into the United States illegally from Mexico and were staying in a motel in El Paso and transporting other migrants from El Paso to Albuquerque on behalf of the smugglers.
Jorge Garcia Rascon stated he transported six undocumented migrants to Albuquerque a week before the crash. He said he did not get paid by the criminal organization but in return the smugglers would forgive the money he owed them, court documents state.
Julio Garcia Rascon also agreed to talk without counsel. During the interview, he stated to law enforcement that he and his brother worked for the unnamed smuggling organization transporting migrants. He said he was paid $500 for each migrant he transported, which included two trips to Albuquerque.
Further, Julio Garcia Rascon, the alleged driver of the tan Tahoe, stated the criminal smuggling organization had instructed him not to stop if law enforcement attempted to stop him.
Both brothers have a preliminary detention hearing scheduled via Zoom on Wednesday morning in Magistrate Judge Stephan M. Vidmar’s court in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Court documents show Jorge Garcia Rascon has signed a waiver of hearings.