McALLEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Two Mexican men have been sentenced to federal prison in the U.S. for their roles in a deadly 2021 human smuggling attempt in South Texas.
Francisco Javier Quintanilla-Alcocer, 39, and Brandon Cibriano-Gonzalez, 22, were sentenced Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez. Cibriano-Gonzalez was sentenced to just over six years in prison, while Quintanilla-Alcocer was sentenced to a little more than seven years, a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced.
“Judge Alvarez ordered the sentences in part consecutive for a cumulative 100-month term of imprisonment,” the release stated.
A third accomplice, Orlando Andres Garcia, also admitted guilt in connection with the deadly smuggling attempt.
On Oct. 22, 2021, Cibriano-Gonzalez was acting as a brush guide during a smuggling attempt that involved 10 migrants. He guided them to a pick-up location in Palmview, where Quintanilla-Alcocer and Garcia arrived in a Chevrolet Impala and Malibu.
The migrants, along with Cibriano-Gonzalez, were loaded into the vehicles that drove off. Shortly afterward, law enforcement attempted to conduct a traffic stop before the two vehicles led police on a chase at speeds of up to 130 miles per hour, the release stated.
Quintanilla-Alcocer turned onto a dirt road in Mission, causing the vehicle to roll over and crash into a homeowner’s fence. Authorities found seven individuals, three of whom had been ejected. Two of them were pronounced dead at the scene.
According to the release, Quintanilla-Alcocer was not located at the time of the crash, but evidence in the vehicle helped investigators find him. Phone records also showed that he and Garcia had been communicating throughout the high-speed chase, showing that Garcia told Quintanilla-Alcocer to go faster.
Three months after the crash, a third migrant died from their injuries.
“Human smugglers – they don’t care about anyone’s life but their own, and after leading authorities on a car chase, crashing and rolling a vehicle full of migrants, Quintanilla-Alcocer fled the scene, leaving those he transported for dead,” U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani said. “Remember this: human smugglers – you are not welcome in the Southern District of Texas, and this office will continue its efforts to hold these criminals accountable with convictions and long sentences.”
Cibriano-Gonzalez and Quintanilla-Alcocer pleaded guilty on March 3 and Feb. 3, respectively. They both are expected to be deported following their imprisonment.
Garcia’s sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 14, and he faces up to life in prison.
“Two migrants died on the side of a dirt road in Mission, Texas, because of a smuggler’s reckless attempt to avoid arrest,” Hamdani said.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations investigated with assistance from the Palmview Police Department and Texas Department of Public Safety, the release said. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lee Fry and Devin Walker prosecuted the case.