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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Texas Man Gets 16 Years for Fatal Human Smuggling Attempt After HSI, Partner Investigation

A central Texas man was sentenced to one count of conspiracy to transport noncitizens resulting in death and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm following an investigation conducted by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) with assistance from the Medina County Sheriff’s Office.

Joseph Alex Hernandez, 27, of Austin, was sentenced on April 4 to 192 months for transporting noncitizens resulting in death and 120 months for being a felon in possession of a firearm. The two sentences will run concurrently. Hernandez pleaded guilty Oct. 23, 2023.

“This sentencing highlights HSI’s commitment to use every tool in our arsenal to investigate and dismantle transnational criminal organizations involved with human smuggling,” said HSI San Antonio Special Agent in Charge Craig Larrabee. “This case shows the lack of regard these organizations have for the people they have been paid to smuggle. There will be no safe haven in our communities for criminals who seek to evade our nation’s laws and whose greed results in tragedy.”

According to court documents, on April 24, 2022, Hernandez sped away from and attempted to evade Medina County Sheriff’s deputies for approximately seven minutes after they attempted a traffic stop. Hernandez reached speeds between 90 and 100 miles per hour along the highway and access road, crossing the steep, grassy median several times and running a red traffic light. A rear tire on his vehicle eventually gave out and Hernandez lost control, resulting in the vehicle crashing after flipping multiple times in the median. Hernandez was transporting 13 undocumented noncitizens during the chase, including eight who were lying down in the covered truck bed. Three of the passengers were airlifted from the scene and the rest were transported via ambulance to local hospitals. While providing medical treatment, emergency medical services personnel discovered that Hernandez was carrying a loaded pistol. Several days later, two of the smuggled migrants died in the hospital from their injuries.

Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas Amanda Brown prosecuted the case.

“This case is another unfortunate and tragic example of how dangerous smuggling humans across the border has become,” said U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas Jaime Esparza. “The defendant in this case put 13 lives at risk in an attempt to evade law enforcement. Sadly, his actions led to two of those individuals paying the ultimate price.”

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Homeland Security Today
The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.
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Homeland Security Today
Homeland Security Todayhttp://www.hstoday.us
The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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