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Woman Pleads Guilty After ICE HSI Investigation Uncovers Her Role in Arranging Deadly Human Smuggling Attempt

On July 21, 2021, authorities learned that an undocumented migrant had been abandoned along the roadside during a human smuggling attempt.

An investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Houston and the Victoria (Texas) Police Department led to a South Texas woman pleading guilty Thursday for her role in arranging a human smuggling attempt that left one undocumented migrant dead.

Viriam Lizeth Huerta-Garcia, 24, a resident of Edinburg, Texas, pleaded guilty March 3 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas to conspiracy to transport undocumented migrants. She is scheduled to be sentenced on the charges May 26 and faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine.

On July 21, 2021, authorities learned that an undocumented migrant had been abandoned along the roadside during a human smuggling attempt. A family member of the victim had reported to law enforcement that smugglers had told them that the male migrant had become ill during the smuggling attempt and provided the location of where he was left behind.

Law enforcement responded to the scene and discovered a Hispanic male laying down in a brushy area a short distance from the roadway. They pronounced him dead on the scene. The investigation revealed that the victim was the same migrant that the family member had reported missing.

The victim, a Mexican national, had recently left the country to assist his ailing mother but had been trying to return to the United States. He was last heard from July 18, 2021.

Huerta-Garcia admitted during the hearing that she accepted $3,600 from his family members as payment for smuggling him into the U.S.

Huerta-Garcia will remain in custody pending her sentencing hearing.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Patti Hubert Booth is prosecuting the case.

Read more at ICE

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