Suspected ‘coyote' arraigned, charged with smuggling

July 14, 2001

SAN DIEGO — A 32-year-old Mexican national, Martin Osuna Hernandez, was arraigned in federal court here Friday and charged with illegal immigrant smuggling.

Osuna is suspected of being the guide for a group of immigrants who illegally crossed the U.S.-Mexico border west of Calexico on Tuesday. Two members of the group allegedly traveling with Osuna died from heat exposure after the temperature reached well above 100 degrees, a U.S. Border Patrol press release states.

Unable to continue north, the smugglers allegedly left three members of the group behind, the release states.

One of those left behind — the strongest of the three — went to get help, the release states.

An unidentified farm hand alerted a Border Patrol agent that there were people in need of medical assistance, according to the release.

The agent located footprints and tracked them back to the two migrants who had, by that time, died.


Shortly afterward, another agent located the man who had gone for help and returned with him to the scene.

The migrant identified the two victims for the agent. One of the dead was his sister, the release states.

Later that afternoon, California Highway Patrol officers pulled over a van driven by Osuna north of El Centro after the officer suspected him of drunken driving, the release states.

Inside Osuna's van were 11 suspected undocumented migrants. The Highway Patrol contacted the Border Patrol.

The Border Patrol took the group of 11 into custody while the Highway Patrol officers transported Osuna to the El Centro Border Patrol Station.

At the station, the brother of one of the deceased immigrants identified Osuna as one of the guides who led the group into the desert, the release states.

After further investigation, the Border Patrol determined individuals in the vehicle with Osuna were the same people who had been traveling with the two migrants who perished earlier that day.

Based on that information, an arrest warrant was issued for Osuna on Thursday and he was taken into custody by Border Patrol agents that evening.

The incident is still under investigation. Osuna is being held in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in San Diego.

Imperial Valley Press Online Articles