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Douglas Man Sentenced to Over 10 Years for Fatal Alien Smuggling

Douglas Man Sentenced to Over 10 Years for Fatal Alien Smuggling

Douglas Man Sentenced to Over 10 Years for Fatal Alien Smuggling

By Ciara Perez, News Reporter | iSkyCreations - News & Media (ISC)

Publish Date: July 6th, 2024

Tucson, AZ — Manuel Victor Gastelum, a 27-year-old from Douglas, Arizona, was sentenced last week to over 10 years in prison for his role in a deadly alien smuggling operation. United States District Court Judge Rosemary Márquez handed down the 130-month sentence, followed by five years of supervised release, after Gastelum pleaded guilty to Transportation of Illegal Aliens for Profit Resulting in Death on January 31, 2024.

Gastelum also received an additional 12-month sentence for violating his federal probation from a previous alien smuggling conviction.

The tragic event unfolded on December 4, 2020, when Gastelum picked up eight undocumented noncitizens near the border to transport them further into the United States. While driving westbound on Interstate 10 near Vail, Arizona, Gastelum lost control of the vehicle, causing it to roll multiple times. A 42-year-old male passenger was ejected from the vehicle and died at the scene. Several other passengers were seriously injured and taken to the hospital.

Gastelum fled the scene on foot but was captured later that morning several miles away.

This wasn't Gastelum's first run-in with the law. In 2019, he was convicted of Transportation of Aliens for Profit Placing Life in Jeopardy after fleeing from law enforcement and crashing at a gas station while transporting undocumented noncitizens. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison and three years of supervised release for that offense. He violated his supervised release by committing the new offense just three months after getting out of federal prison.

When imposing the sentence, Judge Márquez stressed that a long sentence was necessary to protect the public.

The case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations in Tucson, with help from the Arizona Department of Public Safety. The United States Attorney’s Office in Tucson prosecuted the case.


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