YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Man Charged in Fatal Immigrant Smuggling

Courts: Authorities accuse him of arranging the trip on Interstate 8 that ended in crash that killed six in the San Diego area.

June 29, 2002|From a Times Staff Writer

A Mexican citizen was charged with immigrant-smuggling Friday, accused of arranging the deadly van ride in which six people died after the van crashed into other vehicles Monday night on Interstate 8 east of San Diego.

Alfredo Alvarez Coronado was charged in U.S. District Court with transporting undocumented immigrants for commercial advantage and financial gain.

He is being held by the U.S. Border Patrol.

According to court papers, Alvarez led several members of the group on foot through the hills just east of Tecate.

The immigrants paid $1,300 to $1,500 each for the trip, of which Alvarez, who officials believe had been part of a smuggling operation for about six weeks, kept $300, the documents said.

His job was allegedly to transport the immigrants to another vehicle that would take them farther into the U.S.

While it was driving the wrong way in the eastbound lanes with headlights off to avoid a nearby Border Patrol checkpoint, the van struck four oncoming vehicles.

Five of the suspected illegal immigrants and a 50-year-old Albuquerque man were killed instantly. Others suffered injuries that ranged from minor to severe.

"It's believed that [Alvarez] is only one of several individuals that work for this organization," said Raleigh Leonard, spokesman for the Border Patrol's San Diego office.

"This is just an example of the type of callous, ruthless behavior on the part of smugglers we've been saying from the start has to be stopped," Leonard said.

The investigation into the crash continues, and Alvarez could face more charges, Leonard said.

Los Angeles Times Articles