Friday, July 1, 2011

Smuggler arrested after desert deaths

SELLS - A Mexican citizen tracked down by U.S. Border Patrol agents is facing multiple federal counts related to human smuggling resulting in death following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations .

Marcos Soto-Mendoza, 41, is accused of leading a group of five illegal aliens through the desert on the Tohono O'odham Nation, abandoning two of them to die after they succumbed to dehydration. A concerned citizen who had encountered one member of the smuggled group called Border Patrol agents from the Ajo Station to request assistance. Agents responded to the scene and found two deceased individuals in the desert approximately 2.5 miles west of the Village of Pisinemo. The Border Patrol was then able to locate Soto and rescue the remaining aliens, who were all in need of medical assistance.

"Human smugglers are willing to risk their ‘customers' lives in the brutal heat of the Sonoran Desert," said Rodney Irby, assistant special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Sells. "Unfortunately, these inhumane practices all too often end in tragedies like this. At least in this case, the families of the deceased will know that someone will be held accountable for the deaths of their loved ones."

This arrest and prosecution closely follows a similar incident from June 23, when Border Patrol agents apprehended Gaspar Osorio-Carbajal, 37, after one of the aliens he is accused of smuggling through the desert also succumbed to the excessive desert heat. Osorio is also facing charges of human smuggling resulting in death for that incident.


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