Alleged smugglers indicted

August 31, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

Two men suspected of being immigrant smugglers were indicted this week on 36 counts, including a charge that a death resulted from their smuggling operation.

Meanwhile, two other men thought to be smugglers could face a similar indictment next week, according to federal authorities.

The two men indicted in San Diego federal court Wednesday are Miguel Angel Vizcaino-Sandoval, 25, and Jose Jaime-Reynaga, 42. Information on where the men reside was unavailable this morning.

The two were indicted on charges that included smuggling undocumented immigrants resulting in death, smuggling immigrants for financial gain, transporting illegal immigrants resulting in death and transportation of illegal immigrants.

The case was connected to an Aug. 15 smuggling operation.

The two suspects, according to the indictment, brought a group of 18 immigrants across the border illegally. One of the immigrants, Rogelio Melendez-Sanchez died from heat exposure.


The indictment states the defendants' actions resulted in the death. The men could face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment if convicted.

The defendants are expected to have an arraignment hearing on the indictment Tuesday in federal court in El Centro.

Two other suspects, both of whom have been arraigned on felony smuggling charges, could face a similar indictment next week.

Jorge Zamudio Velasquez, 28, and Sergio Juarez Torres, 31, reportedly brought a group of illegal immigrants across the border earlier this month. That action also ended in a death as Maria Isabel Pacheo Madera died from exposure to the heat Aug. 20.

Pacheco had crossed the border with her five children, all of whom survived.

A federal spokeswoman said once an arraignment is done, the government has 10 to 20 days to return an indictment. She said an indictment in the case likely would come next week.

Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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