2 men plead guilty in southern Arizona crash death involving human smuggling

Aug 5, 2022, 12:00 PM

FILE - In this Thursday, June 10, 2021, file photo, a pair of migrant families from Brazil pass thr...

FILE - In this Thursday, June 10, 2021, file photo, a pair of migrant families from Brazil pass through a gap in the border wall to reach the United States after crossing from Mexico to Yuma, Ariz., to seek asylum. Border officials got the go-ahead Thursday, July 28, 2022, to fill four remaining gaps in the U.S.-Mexico wall near the southern Arizona community of Yuma for safety reasons. (AP Photo/Eugene Garcia, File)

(AP Photo/Eugene Garcia, File)

PHOENIX — Two men pleaded guilty in Tucson last week to conspiring to transport migrants, resulting in the death of a 36-year-old woman, authorities said.

Jesus Madrid-Valera, 19, of Mexico, allegedly smuggled three migrants into the United States in May 2021 by guiding them through the desert on foot to Quijotoa, Arizona, the U.S. District Attorney’s Office in Arizona said in a press release.

Madrid-Valera and the three migrants were picked up on May 22, 2021, by Matthew D. Ramirez, 20, of Tempe, as he intended to take them further into the country.

During the drive, a Tohono O’odham police officer attempted to pull Ramirez over for speeding but was unsuccessful as he was traveling over 100 mph, the release said.

He lost control of the vehicle, as it rolled over several times and ejected the woman from Mexico. The other passengers survived, sustaining nonfatal injuries.

Ramirez allegedly confessed to being recruited through Snapchat by a smuggling organization that was offering to pay him $1,000 for driving the undocumented residents to Phoenix.

He pleaded guilty to to the indictment without a plea agreement and faces up to life in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000, the release said.

Madrid-Valera pleaded guilty with a plea agreement and faces 36 to 57 months in prison.

Sentencing for Ramirez and Madrid-Varela is scheduled for Nov. 1.

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2 men plead guilty in southern Arizona crash death involving human smuggling