CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A Mexican citizen has been sentenced to federal prison after a failed smuggling attempt left seven people dead in southeast Texas.
On Thursday, July 9, 2020, 31-year-old Ivan Dario Puga-Moreno was sentenced before U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas to 10 years in federal prison for conspiracy to transport unlawfully present aliens into the United States causing death or serious bodily injury.
Puga-Moreno admitted, in a guilty plea earlier this year, to driving a Chevrolet Suburban on June 5, 2019, fleeing police, and crashing in a ditch near Robstown, Texas. Authorities discovered the wreckage where five illegal immigrants and a smuggler were found dead., 10 more were hospitalized with significant injuries, and a sixth illegal immigrant later died.
"Puga-Moreno had been attempting to smuggle a total of 18 unlawfully present aliens with brush guide Agustin Gutierrez-Gonzalez, who was from his hometown in Mexico," read a statement from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
After the crash, Puga-Moreno failed to call 911 or render aid and fled to Houston, Texas, in an attempt to avoid arrest. He was later apprehended by HSI Houston on June 6, 2019.
Puga-Moreno was aided in fleeing to Houston by 33-year-old Guiterrez-Gonzales, 35-year-old Elena Ruiz of Corpus Christi, and 32-year-old Mayra Chayer of Honduras. Each pled guilty to their roles in aiding Puga-Moreno and are set for sentencing at a later date.
According to ICE, Puga-Moreno is illegally present in the United States and is expected to face removal proceedings following his release from prison.
Puga-Moreno had previously been arrested in Hidalgo County for evading arrest or detention, theft of property between $20,000 and $100,000, burglary of a habitation intend other felony, failure to identify as a fugitive from justice, obstruction or retaliation, resisting arrest or transport, and auto theft, according to county records.