Alleged smuggler deported after fatal crash arrested after crossing again

Federal authorities arrested a Tamaulipas man on smuggling charges that relate to a fatal Oct. 22 car crash that killed two people, including another smuggler, and severely injured five others attempting to enter the country illegally.

Border Patrol arrested Brandon Osiel Cibriano-Gonzalez Tuesday in a group of 13 people, including himself, who were trying to enter the country illegally.

Agents deported Cibriano after the crash under Title 42, a pandemic-related federal policy that immediately returns migrant asylum seekers back to Mexico.

Cibriano, however, was not an asylum seeker. Federal authorities later charged him with acting as a brush guide on multiple occasions between Oct. 22 and Tuesday.

The fatal crash happened after a Palmview police officer spotted a silver Chevrolet Impala and a gray Chevrolet Malibu at approximately 5:23 a.m. traveling north in tandem on Abram Road, which is commonly used by smugglers because it’s close to the Rio Grande, a criminal complaint against Cibriano said.

The Palmview police officer attempted to stop the Impala, but was unable to pass the Malibu due to oncoming traffic on the southbound lane of Abram Road.

“The Malibu suddenly moved to the center lane and made a westbound turn,” the complaint said. “The Impala accelerated its speed and continued traveling north on Abram Road.”

The Palmview police officer continued chasing the Impala as it continued northbound on Abram Road past 5 Mile Road toward an area that turns into a dirt road that is used as a bailout area for smugglers, according to the complaint.

“Upon reaching the dirt road, Palmview PD slowed down significantly due to the hazard of the dirt road and the dirt kicking up, impairing the officer’s vision,” the complaint said.

Shortly thereafter, the officer found the Impala at 6719 Abram Road in Mission with extensive damage.

At the scene of the crash, the officer saw a man hanging out of the left rear window and three other men laying on the ground next to the vehicle, according to the complaint.

“In total, officers encountered seven (7) subjects on scene involved in the accident. Two (2) subjects were deceased, and five (5) subjects were extremely injured,” the complaint said.

Border Patrol agents also found Cibriano and Ismari Yudith Solorzano-Castellanos, a citizen of Honduras.

The deceased include Brayan Treviño, of Mexico, who was later identified as one of the smugglers, and Cristian Arnulfo Jimenez-Castro, a citizen of Honduras.

That same day, Homeland Security Investigations and Palmview police investigators arrived at McAllen Medical Center to interview the people involved in the collision and medical staff told them that Cibriano was refusing medical treatment and trying to check out of the hospital, according to the complaint.

He told investigators during an interview that 10 to 11 people were in the Impala and that he sat in the center console of the vehicle.

“He has attempted to enter the United States approximately three (3) times but has been apprehended and returned to Mexico each time,” the complaint said.

After the interview, he was deported under Title 42, according to the complaint.

On Oct. 25, investigators and agents again visited McAllen Medical Center to interview some of the people who were physically capable of providing a statement.

That’s when they interviewed Solorzano, who said she left Honduras to live with her sister in Wisconsin.

“She was provided the clave (code word) ‘Diamante’ (Diamond) and a (gray) plastic bracelet by her smugglers,” the complaint said.

She crossed the river with five others and a brush guide, who she identified as Cibriano.

They dressed in black long-sleeved shirts and walked until they reached an area in the brush where they hid until a vehicle arrived to pick them up.

“The vehicle was driven by an unidentified male in a (gray) shirt who was accompanied by another unidentified male in the front passenger seat,” the complaint said.

The front passenger was later identified as Treviño, who Border Patrol agents believe was a smuggler. The complaint doesn’t identify the driver.

“She further advised that they traveled in the vehicle for a few minutes until police began to follow them. At that point, she overheard the driver and front passenger discussing how they needed to drive faster to get away from police,” the complaint said. “She stated the car sped up and then they crashed.”

Agents then interviewed Elvis Duran-Loyo, a citizen of Guatemala who was also provided a gray bracelet. He said he left his country in order to live with his brother in Florida, according to the complaint.

Duran-Loya identified Treviño as his smuggler, Border Patrol said.

He also noted that the only two people that didn’t stay at the stash house in Mexico before crossing were Treviño and Cibriano.

He was placed in the trunk of the Impala.

“After the vehicle crashed, Duran-Loyo stated someone opened the trunk of the car and told him to run, but he was unable to see who it was due to his eyes covered in blood,” the complaint said.

Then, on Tuesday, Border Patrol agents encountered Cibriano with a dozen others crossing illegally. He was interviewed and told agents he lived in Tamaulipas and was trying to make it to Houston, adding that he was last arrested a few days ago.

“Agents observed shards of glass stuck in Cibriano-Gonzalez’s forehead and inquired as to how he received the injuries,” the complaint said.

According to Border Patrol, he made multiple inconsistent statements before telling investigators that he was the brush guide for the group involved in the fatal Oct. 22 car crash.

“Cibriano-Gonzalez stated the driver of the Impala began driving very fast after he picked them up. Eventually, the car began to shake and fishtail, then the driver lost control of the vehicle and it rolled several times,” the complaint said. “Cibriano-Gonzalez stated he was ejected from the vehicle through the front windshield.”

Border Patrol said he also admitted to acting as a brush guide multiple times between Oct. 22 and Nov. 16 in exchange for 5,000 pesos each time.

He was charged with transporting people in the country illegally and with conspiracy to transport people in the country illegally.

Cibriano was being temporarily held without bond pending detention and probable cause hearings scheduled for next week, court records indicate.