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Wednesday, June 16, 2004

WIStv.com Columbia, SC: Illegal immigrant smuggler pleads guilty in connection to 19 deaths in TX semi

WIStv.com Columbia, SC: Illegal immigrant smuggler pleads guilty in connection to 19 deaths in TX semi

(Houston-AP) June 15, 2004 - The ringleader of an immigrant smuggling scheme on Tuesday pleaded guilty in connection with the deaths of 19 immigrants abandoned in a sweltering truck trailer in Texas.

Karla Patricia Chavez, 26, admitted conspiring to harbor and transport illegal immigrants in a manner that led to their deaths. She could get up to life in prison at her sentencing on September 13th.

More than 70 illegal immigrants were smuggled from the Rio Grande Valley aboard a tractor-trailer. The stifling trailer was abandoned at a truck stop near Victoria in May 2003. Seventeen people were found dead and two died later.

Prosecutors may recommend a lighter sentence if Chavez cooperates against others in the case, including the truck driver, who could get the death penalty.

posted 10:50am by Chris Rees

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