Texas – A 30-year-old Mexican national has pleaded guilty for his role
in a conspiracy to transport aliens within the United States, announced
U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.
On Oct. 7, 2019, authorities spotted a group of individuals crossing
from the Mexican side of Falcon Lake via a boat and entering a red Ford
Explorer in the United States. They located the SUV and attempted to get
behind it. However, the driver – later identified Ruben Ernesto
Mendoza-Zapata – fled the scene at a high rate of speed. During the
pursuit, Mendoza-Zapata tried rounding a curve, but rolled the vehicle
Law enforcement secured the scene and rescued the occupants, one of
whom was pinned underneath the vehicle. At the time of the rollover, a
6-year-old boy was also in the SUV.
Mendoza-Zapata and two others were taken to the hospital but have since recovered.
Mendoza-Zapata, also in the United States illegally, claimed a man in
Zapata approached him and offered to pay him to transport the
U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo accepted the plea and
will set sentencing at a later date. At that time, Mendoza-Zapata faces
up to 20 years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 fine. Not a
U.S. citizen, he is expected to face removal proceedings following the
He has been and will remain in custody pending sentencing.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security
Investigations conducted the investigation with the assistance of Border
Patrol. Assistant U.S. Attorney David Fawcett is prosecuting the case.