Man pleads guilty to smuggling that led to minor’s death

Miguel Angel Ceballos Acuna

A Mexican national accused in a smuggling attempt that resulted in the death of a 14-year-old Mexican child has pleaded guilty to the charge and will be sentenced in May.

Miguel Angel Ceballos Acuna appeared Tuesday before U.S. District Judge Rolando Olvera Jr. where he entered his guilty plea to transporting a person in the country illegally resulting in death, court documents reflect.

He is scheduled to be sentenced May 31 and faces up to life in prison, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas said in a news release.

State court documents indicate Ceballos Acuna also has a manslaughter felony pending with the state related to the same case.

A federal grand jury indicted Ceballos Acuna Aug. 30, 2022, and said his actions caused the death of a minor identified only as “J.R.G.”

A Cameron County jury indicted him May 25, 2022, on a manslaughter charge, as he operated a motor vehicle, a deadly weapon, at an unsafe speed and failing to stay on a single lane of traffic.

According to the federal indictment, the incident occurred March 22, 2022, where Ceballos Acuna agreed to transport the minor from Mexico into the United States illegally in violation to U.S. law.

The news release said U.S. Border Patrol agents went to the border fence area located near the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley campus in reference to a possible smuggling attempt.

Two individuals crossed the U.S.-Mexico border, got into a white SUV and federal authorities started to chase SUV.

According to the news release, the SUV ran several traffic lights, and federal authorities stopped pursuing the SUV because of safety concerns.

However, the SUV continued to speed, and the driver crashed into a utility pole in a residential neighborhood, the news release stated. When agents arrived at the scene, they found the minor dead.

As part of his plea agreement, Ceballos Acuna admitted that he and another person were driving the vehicle and had gone to the border fence to pick up the minor, who they knew had entered the U.S. illegally.

In addition to facing life in prison, Ceballos Acuna also faces a fine of up to $250,000.