Multiple Human Smugglers Convicted in Migrant Deaths

( – Four human traffickers with connections to one of Mexico’s top cartels have pleaded guilty to charges they were facing in Texas for their roles in a pair of separate incidents in which eight immigrants died during transport. Their convictions are only the latest of several examples of what can happen to migrants at the hands of their smugglers when they are en route to their final U.S.-based destinations.

On September 27th, 40-year-old Juan M. Tena, 37-year-old Julia I. Torres, 34-year-old Israel Torres, and 27-year-old Jose Torres appeared in front of a U.S. district judge in Brownsville and pleaded guilty to a number of charges relating to human trafficking that had resulted in immigrant deaths. All four men were said to be part of the same criminal organization, according to prosecutors.

The four men’s guilty pleas stem from a 2019 incident in which the group of traffickers were transporting illegal aliens to Houston from Southern Texas in the bed of a pickup truck. While en route, the truck flipped over and four of the migrants were killed.

Prosecutors indicated that Tena had acted as the group’s leader and was responsible for recruiting the men into the employ of Mexico’s Gulf Cartel. Authorities have further said that the umbrella organization responsible for the 2019 tragedy was also behind a similar incident in 2022 in which a boat carrying illegal migrants to Corpus Christi overturned.

Four immigrants were also killed in that case, though the smugglers responsible for their deaths are still awaiting trial. In both cases, the traffickers are facing the possibility of a lifetime behind bars.

According to recent numbers from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, more than 260,000 illegal aliens crossed into the United States from Mexico in September. The total is reported to be the highest monthly tally of agency encounters in the nation’s history and does not include those who slipped past authorities unnoticed.

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