Five people charged in alleged 'smuggling scheme,' Texas officials say

Texas officials on Wednesday announced charges against five people for a purported “smuggling scheme,” with one of the five accused of leading authorities on a chase that ended in a crash that killed several illegal immigrants.

The episode on Tuesday started when U.S. Border Patrol agents attempted to conduct “immigration inspections” on three vehicles traveling together between El Indio and Carrizo Springs, Texas, a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the West District of Texas said.

A pursuit ensued as Jorge Luis Monsivais, Jr., 20, sped away, authorities said, and the vehicle ultimately crashed after arriving in Big Wells, Texas, leaving multiple people riding with him dead or injured.

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“Of 13 illegal aliens traveling with Monsivais at the time of the crash, four of them died at the scene and nine were transported to a hospital for medical care,” the news release said. “One died on the way to the hospital.”

Officials said nearly two dozen illegal immigrants, all of whom were Mexican or Honduran nationals – were detained.

At the time of the crash, Monsivais was on supervised release for a federal charge, The Associated Press reported. Court documents viewed by the outlet showed Monsivais was arrested "transporting" three immigrants to San Antonio for an average price of $1,500 per person. He had been sentenced to more than a year in prison and three years of supervised release.

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Monsivais and Marcial Gomez Santana, 55, as well as “occupants” Mariela Reyna, 44, Rudy Gomez, 21, and Johana Gomez, 19, were all hit with federal counts of conspiracy to transport illegal aliens resulting in death, conspiracy to transport and harbor illegal aliens resulting in serious bodily injury and conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens, the news release said.

Officials additionally charged Monsivais with one substantive count of transportation of illegal aliens resulting in death and one substantive count of transportation of illegals resulting in serious bodily injury. The other four people were also charged with harboring illegal immigrants for private financial gain, the news release said.

Santana and Reyna are both Mexican citizens, the news release said, while the other three defendants are of Texas.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.