Criminal JusticeFederalImmigration & BorderIssuesJudicialHuman Smugglers Plead Guilty in Crash That Killed Eight Illegal Immigrants, Injured Two U.S. Citizens

Prosecutors say 12 other illegal immigrants tried to flee after a car chase ended in a crash that killed eight people and injured two more.
January 4, 2023
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced in a news release that two defendants accused of participating in a fatal human smuggling scheme have both pleaded guilty to one count of illegal alien transportation resulting in death.

Thirty-three-year-old Round Rock resident Lauren Malmquist and 24-year-old Bastrop resident Eduardo Benitez could be sentenced to up to life imprisonment.

Prosecutors said that on March 15, 2021, human smugglers near Del Rio led police on a car chase for 50 miles, which ended in a crash that killed eight people in the country illegally and injured two U.S. citizens. The driver of one of the vehicles, 26-year-old Ohio resident Sebastian Tovar, collided with oncoming traffic.

Tovar is among five defendants who pleaded guilty last year to the same charge for their role in the deaths; they face possible sentences of life imprisonment. Three more individuals pleaded guilty to a less serious charge of conspiracy to transport aliens and are each facing up to 10 years in prison.

“Following the crash, U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) agents encountered a Ford F-150 stopped in traffic near the crash site. The agents directed the driver of the Ford to turn around and subsequently all its occupants fled on foot into nearby brush,” the DOJ said on Thursday.

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Border guards later arrested 12 illegal immigrants and discovered that the human smugglers were traveling with a total of 20 people who had crossed the border unlawfully, according to prosecutors.

The dates of the convicts’ sentencing hearings are to be determined.

The accused were indicted in November 2021.


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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."