McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — A Nicaraguan national faces life in prison for trafficking noncitizens across the border from Mexico into South Texas in a sweltering trailer that led to one death, the Department of Homeland Security reports.

Arling Antonio Gutierrez-Garcia, 49, was illegally in the United States when he drove a tractor-trailer with 63 undocumented immigrants from Mexico and Guatemala on June 6, 2022, according to investigators with the Homeland Security Investigations.

Gutierrez-Garcia plead guilty on March 10 to conspiracy to transport noncitizens and will be sentenced at a later date by U.S. District Judge Diana Saldaña. He faces life in prison and a $250,000 fine.

According to court documents, Gutierrez-Garcia drove the metal trailer with a vinyl tarp over it “that eliminated air circulation and increased temperatures.” Several migrants tore a hole in the tarp and began “jumping from the trailer.”

One person remained inside and was found dead, investigators said.

Law enforcement officials found Gutierrez-Garcia on a private ranch road outside of Laredo, Texas, where he was reportedly hiding in the brush and claimed to be part of the migrants who were being transported. Investigators say it was later learned that Gutierrez-Garcia was the driver.

“Transporting dozens of human beings in a vinyl-covered, all-metal trailer in the South Texas summer heat demonstrates the callousness and indifference of smugglers to human life,” said Alamdar Hamdani, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Texas. “The sweltering heat that built up in this vehicle which was designed not for people, but for hauling sand, rock and other materials, maximized the potential for injury and the eventual and tragic death of one of the victims. This defendant will now face substantial consequences for his inhumane crime.”

“The tragic loss of life in this case is an example of the very real risks people face when they put their lives in the hands of smugglers,” said Homeland Security Investigations Laredo Deputy Special Agent in Charge Alejandro Amaro. “Those responsible for illegally moving people through our country place personal profit ahead of public safety. Driven by greed, these criminals have little regard for the health and well-being of the individuals they smuggle, which can be a deadly combination.”