Two Guatemalan men who illegally crossed the U.S.-Mexico border and led across other migrants pleaded guilty on Thursday in federal court to a conspiracy that resulted in the death of one migrant, the Department of Justice announced.
In August 2021, police arrested Armando Gael-Galicia, 26, and Jose Diego Tercero-Gonzalez, 22, after the body of a young Guatemalan woman was discovered near Odessa, Texas. The victim died in Gael-Galicia and Tercero-Gonzalez’s trailer, which also housed additional illegal immigrants. The defendants admitted on Thursday that they "operated a prolific alien smuggling organization and were responsible for the transportation of the migrant who died."
The case comes as the U.S.-Mexico border under President Joe Biden faces an unprecedented crisis. Two million migrants illegally crossed into the United States in this fiscal year, the Washington Free Beacon reported. Vice President Kamala Harris, whom Biden tasked with handling the crisis, has been to the border only once, with Democratic congressman Henry Cuellar saying that "it doesn’t look like she’s very interested in" the issue.
The case is connected to the indictments of other human smugglers who "facilitate the travel of large numbers of migrants from Guatemala through Mexico, and ultimately, to the United States, charging the migrants and their families approximately $10,000 to $12,000 for the perilous journey," the Justice Department said. Guatemalan authorities have arrested the other smugglers and are preparing to send them for trial in the United States.