Three men have been sentenced to prison in an immigrant smuggling ring for crashing through a Texas home in an SUV, killing a 70-year-old woman, Bertha Gonzalez, according to the Associated Press.
On August 6, 2011, a police officer pulled over the SUV, a Chevrolet Suburban, in Falfurrias, Texas. As he approached the vehicle, the vehicle sped off, crashing into the Gonzalez's home while she was sleeping. The men were trying to smuggle undocumented immigrants when officers pulled them over.
While the Border Patrol's "apprehensions of migrants [have reached] 40-year lows", the crackdown on undocumented immigrants at federal and local levels has also created an environment of greater risk and danger. Just last month, 9 undocumented immigrants were killed in a car crash, as their driver also tried to flee from authorities.
According to the local Fox network in Falfurrias, Gonzalez's body was throw into the backyard killing her instantly. Gonzalez is survived by her 6 children and over 20 grandchildren.
Falfurrias Chief of Police, Eden Garcia, told Fox 2 News that "illegal aliens are always being ushered through our towns and our cars." Garcia says human smuggling is a problem in Falfurrias, Texas. In regard to Gonzalez's death, Garcia said, "Community wise, everyone is upset. Naturally I'm upset. Again, no one deserves to die like this."
Prosecutors say the immigrants pleaded with the driver known as "Perico" to stop before he crashed through Gonzalez's home. Everyone inside the vehicle fled the crash scene. Authorities later found seven undocumented immigrants hiding in a nearby truck. Adrian, one of the smugglers, tried to escape by foot but was tracked down in the area. The driver, "Perico", was never caught.
Romeo Cantu was given 8 years in prison, Marcos Adrian 4 years in prison and Everardo Hernandez-Salazar 5 years in prison.
Federal officials ask that anyone knowing the identity or whereabouts of 'Perico' call Homeland Security Investigations at 361-888-3501.
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