Man charged with smuggling undocumented immigrant found dead in South Texas brush

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(Border Report Photo/Sandra Sanchez)

RIO GRANDE CITY, Texas — The Rio Grande City Police Department arrested a man on suspicion of human smuggling after investigators say he abandoned an undocumented immigrant who later died after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

Police said officers found the body 47-year-old Mauricio Zuniga Gamboa in a brush area Wednesday in Rio Grande City.

Investigators learned from family members that Zuniga paid thousands of dollars to be transported into the United States by Jesus Gerardo Davila Jr., 21, and suspected smuggler Fernando Martinez Perez, also known as “El Venado.”

Police state that during the smuggling attempt, Zuniga began to feel ill and injured his head while climbing a wall.

As Zuniga’s condition began to worsen, police state Davila and Martinez removed him from their vehicle and left him in the brush where investigators later found him dead.

According to police, Davila left Martinez at the Hidalgo Port of Entry and returned to Rio Grande City where he washed the inside of his vehicle.

Police arrested Davila for his alleged role in the crime and have charged him with a 1st-degree felony smuggling of persons and 3rd-degree felony tampering of physical evidence.

“At least four times [in the last month] we’ve been called out for bodies located,” said Noe Castillo, Rio Grande City police chief. “That’s a person that someone left behind. That’s someone’s family member.”

The chief hammered down that these actions will not be tolerated.

“It’s not okay to leave people to die,” said Castillo.

There is still an active warrant for Martinez. Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call (956)-487-8892

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