A Tijuana man will spend more than eight years in prison for guiding a group of undocumented immigrants across a busy highway where two were struck and killed by oncoming traffic.
Jorge Luis Martinez-Hernandez, 33, was sentenced Tuesday for human smuggling resulting in death and human smuggling for financial gain and aiding and abetting. Martinez-Hernandez had pleaded guilty to the felony charges in April.
“To tell people to cross a freeway in complete darkness with cars driving at 65-plus miles per hour is unconscionable,” San Diego Sector Chief Patrol Agent Rodney Scott said in a written release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Martinez-Hernandez brought five adults and three minors through a hole in a wall near the San Ysidro Port of Entry south of San Diego, California on September 17, 2017.
The group loaded into a waiting vehicle and Martinez-Hernandez drove into oncoming traffic on Interstate 5.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection launched a pursuit of the vehicle.
After Martinez-Hernandez stopped the vehicle on the side of the road, he led the group on foot across the northbound lanes of i-5, over a dividing fence and into the southbound lanes near Camino De La Plaza exit.
Two of the undocumented immigrants were struck and killed by an oncoming car.
Seven people, including Martinez-Hernandez, were taken into custody.
The freeway was closed for a period of time overnight as officials investigated.
The undocumented immigrants had agreed to pay between $7,000 to $13,000 to be smuggled into the U.S. according to federal prosecutors. Martinez-Hernandez was going to receive $1,000 per person.
Source: NBC San Diego