FederalImmigration & BorderAustin Resident Faces Life in Prison for Alleged Smuggling That Killed 8 Illegal Aliens

The Del Rio border patrol sector is experiencing considerably more illegal immigration than last fiscal year.
March 31, 2021
A federal grand jury in Del Rio indicted two Austin residents last week, one of whom is a teenager, for allegedly transporting illegal aliens and causing an incident on March 4 that resulted in one illegal alien’s death.

Prosecutors have also charged Austin resident Sebastian Tovar, age 24, with transporting illegal aliens resulting in death for an incident that killed eight people on March 15.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) said in a press release that a Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) officer tried to stop Tovar, who led police on a 50-mile car chase.

“Traveling north into the southbound lane on Highway 277, Tovar collided with another vehicle head-on, resulting in the death of eight illegal aliens that had been in Tovar’s pickup truck,” the DOJ said. “The driver and passenger of the vehicle into which Tovar collided are hospitalized and in stable condition.”

The DOJ said that, after the incident, border patrol agents apprehended 12 illegal aliens, two of whom confessed to being connected to Tovar’s alleged smuggling activities. 

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The defendants in the March 4 incident are 28-year-old Isidro Rodriguez Jr. and 18-year-old Bianca Michelle Trujillo-Lopez. They face the possibility of life in federal prison if convicted.

The indictment charges Rodriguez and Trujillo-Lopez with illegal alien transportation resulting in death, illegal alien transportation resulting in serious bodily injury and placing lives in jeopardy, and two counts of conspiracy.

“Court records allege that on March 4, 2021, the defendants were traveling on FM 2523 near Del Rio when a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper attempted to stop them for speeding,” the DOJ said in a press release

“The driver, Trujillo-Lopez, tried to outrun the trooper, at times reaching speeds over 120 miles per hour. She ultimately lost control of her vehicle and rolled it multiple times after missing a curve on the road.”

According to the press release, the deceased person had been ejected from the vehicle when it rolled over.

Rodriguez will be in jail at least until his case goes to trial, per a ruling by Magistrate Judge Collis White in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas in Del Rio.

According to the enforcement statistics U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reported in February, the number of enforcement encounters with single adult illegal aliens was 339 percent higher than it was at the same time in Fiscal Year 2020. 

Also in the Del Rio sector, there were 52 percent more family unit encounters and 141 percent more unaccompanied children taken into custody as of February than there were at the same point last fiscal year, according to CBP data.

Correction: Originally, this story incorrectly connected Trujillo-Lopez and Rodriguez to the incident that killed eight people. The incident allegedly involving Trujillo-Lopez and Rodriguez only killed one person. Tovar is the person accused of causing the deaths of eight people.


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Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."