Mexican nationals sentenced for deadly human smuggling

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

LAREDO, Texas – Two Mexican men have been ordered to prison following their convictions of conspiracy to transport undocumented aliens which resulted in multiple deaths, announced U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.

Fabian Hernandez, 29, Emmanuel Ferral-Tonche, 20, both of Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico, pleaded guilty Dec. 30, 2021.

Today, U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo imposed a 60-month term of imprisonment for both men. They are expected to face removal proceedings following their sentences.

On June 9, 2021, Hernandez and Ferral-Tonche marched a group of approximately two dozen individuals through the hot south Texas brush. Some were unable to keep going. At no time did Hernandez or Ferral-Tonche offer water or attempt to look for anyone who had fallen behind or gotten lost.

Authorities responded to multiple 911 emergency calls coming from the Hachar Ranch property in Webb County. Law enforcement discovered 24 individuals illegally present in the United States who had become lost at that location. They identified Hernandez and Ferral-Tonche as the smugglers.

Law enforcement also found the remains of three deceased people. Authorities determined Hernandez and Ferral-Tonche had guided at least two of them before they succumbed to dehydration and hyperthermia while traveling on foot.

At the hearing today, the court heard additional evidence that neither man attempted to help look for or offer water to the aliens they smuggled despite the great heat.

Homeland Security Investigations and Customs and Border Protection conducted the investigation with assistance from the Laredo Police Department.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Francisco J. Rodriguez prosecuted the case.