A Mexican illegal alien was sentenced to 21 years in prison on July 5 for his role in leaving a female Honduran illegal alien to die on the side of a Texas road in a people-smuggling incident in 2018.
Nelson Bahena-Garcia, 43, was found guilty and sentenced in the Southern District of Texas for conspiring to commit hostage taking resulting in a death, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) said in a release.
During the hearing, the court heard that Bahena-Garcia operated a human-smuggling stash house using threats and intimidation.
The victim, who was a missing Honduran female, was at the smuggling stash house and not released for medical care during the smuggling operation, according to HSI.
Bahena-Garcia admitted to authorities that she died during the smuggling incident.
“Not only did this human smuggler conspire to undermine our nation’s immigration laws for his own profit, but he did so with a callous and reckless disregard for the lives of the migrants who had entrusted him with their care,” said Mark Dawon, special agent in charge of HSI Houston.
When the missing woman’s fiancé was unable to pay to secure her release he phoned authorities.
The Honduran’s body was found by authorities on a rural road in Victoria County on May 28, 2018, stripped of her clothing. Her body bore signs of trauma.
An investigation was carried out by HSI Victoria, HSI Houston, HSI McAllen, U.S. Border Patrol, and the Sheriff’s Office of Victoria County, Texas.
The investigation determined the Honduran woman had collapsed during the people-smuggling attempt and had to be carried.
According to a companion, Bahena-Garcia ordered the woman to be left in the brush to die even though she said, “Please don’t leave me.”
Bahena-Garcia, who plead guilty to the charges on Nov. 2, 2021, said at the time that his driver had been the one to abandon her.
The smuggler is expected to be deported after his release from prison.
A human smuggler who abandoned a migrant in the Texas brush to die was ordered to serve 21 years in prison for conspiracy to commit hostage taking resulting in a death following an investigation conducted by HSI Victoria, @HSIHouston, HSI McAllen, @CBP, & @VCSOTexas. Details: https://t.co/NC4kBpCxgr pic.twitter.com/1x66tmmr2Y
— HSI Houston (@HSIHouston) July 6, 2022
A number of counties in Texas have declared the illegal immigration crisis at the southern border an “invasion” and have called on Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to follow suit.
Kinney County Judge Tully Shahan signed a local disaster declaration on July 5 requesting that Abbott “immediately prevent and/or remove all persons violating the sovereignty of Texas and that of the United States.”
Kinney County was joined by Goliad, Terrell, Edwards, and Jeff Davis counties, with several more intending to sign declarations.
Brent Smith, the attorney for Kinney County, who helped draft the declaration, said that while Abbott isn’t obligated to do anything about the declaration, he hopes more Texas counties will join to apply more pressure on the governor.
“This is just basically a plea for help to the governor. And the counties on the border who are living through this nightmare every day—the things that we see tell us it’s an invasion. We’re the ones witnessing it,” Smith told The Epoch Times.
“Unless you have a secure border, you don’t have a state, you don’t have a nation. Until we have a secure border, we have no business passing any other laws about anything else. It’s like worrying about what color tablecloth you’re going to buy for your kitchen table while the house is burning down around you.”
Charlotte Cuthbertson contributed to this report.