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A Mission man has been sentenced to federal prison after pleading guilty to his involvement in a fatal smuggling conspiracy, according to a news release from the United States Attorney’s Office Southern District of Texas.
Orlando Andres Garcia, 24, pleaded guilty to human smuggling resulting in death and conspiracy to harbor people illegally present within the U.S. on Feb. 3 and Nov. 29, 2022, respectively.
Garcia has been sentenced to serve nearly 21 years in federal prison.
During the hearing, the court heard how Garcia was communicating with the other driver in the fatal smuggling event and encouraged that driver to reach dangerous speeds.
U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez also considered the life-altering and permanent injuries the survivors of that event sustained in the accident and that Garcia was holding people for ransom only 18 days after the fact.
On Oct. 22, 2021, a man named Brandon Cribriano-Gonzalez, 22, acted as a brush guide in order to smuggle a group of people from Mexico.
Garcia and the other driver, 39-year-old Francisco Javier Quintanilla-Alcocer, picked them up in a Chevrolet Impala and Malibu, respectively, and began driving them when law enforcement attempted to conduct a traffic stop on the vehicles.
Both men didn’t stop for the officers and a high-speed chase ensued.
“Evidence showed that Garcia had been communicating with Quintanilla-Alcocer and telling him to go faster,” the release said. “They reached speeds of 130 miles per hour.”
When Quintanilla-Alcocer turned onto a dirt road in Mission, he lost control of his Impala, rolled and crashed into a homeowner’s fence.
Authorities found a total of seven people at the crash site and discovered three had been ejected from the vehicle, of which two died at the scene and a third died three months later.
Garcia was involved in another smuggling scheme and holding people for ransom just a couple weeks after the fatal accident.
On Nov. 9, 2021, several of the suspects arrived at a stash house screaming “Immigration,” and directed 47 fleeing people into multiple vehicles outside the residence, transporting them to multiple residences before transporting them again.
It was at these stash houses that the conspirators brandished firearms and contacted the families of those they were harboring for additional funds to transport them north.
Garcia also used those people as payment to his co-conspirators for their assistance in stealing them, but when they were unable to secure the funds, several of the conspirators sold them to members of a third human smuggling organization.
Quintanilla-Alcocer and Cibriano-Gonzalez, along with 12 others also pleaded guilty and received sentences of up to over 6 years in federal prison.
“Garcia trafficked in humans, not caring about the multiple lives he destroyed,” U.S. Attorney Almadar S. Hamdani said in the news release. “His actions led to the death of three migrants and to the kidnapping of nearly 50 at gunpoint. He saw migrants not as human beings but as property to buy and sell.
“Now, the only property he can buy or sell for years to come is what he can find in the prison’s commissary.”