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BROWNSVILLE, Texas — A Mexican citizen pleaded guilty to attempted human smuggling resulting in death following an investigation led by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Harlingen with assistance from the U.S. Border Patrol, the Brownsville Police Department and the Cameron County District Attorney’s Office.

Miguel Angel Ceballos-Acuna, 30, of Mexico, pleaded guilty March 7 to a human smuggling event resulting in the death of a minor child.

According to court documents, on March 22, 2022, Border Patrol agents responded to reports of suspected human smuggling near the border fence on the University of Texas’ Rio Grande Valley campus, where two people crossed the border fence and got into a white SUV. Authorities then pursued the vehicle, which ran multiple red lights, but eventually disengaged due to safety concerns. The vehicle continued traveling at high speeds and crashed into a utility pole in a residential neighborhood. When Border Patrol agents arrived on the scene, they discovered the body of a 14-year-old Mexican citizen.

As part of his plea, Ceballos-Acuna admitted he and another person had driven the white SUV that day to pick up a noncitizen who had illegally entered the United States. When they arrived at the campus, two noncitizens entered the vehicle; one was the minor victim. Ceballos-Acuna admitted that he knew the minor was unlawfully present in the United States.

U.S. District Judge Rolando Olvera accepted Ceballos-Acuna’s guilty plea and will sentence him May 31. At that time, Ceballos-Acuna faces up to life in prison and a possible $250,000 fine.

Ceballos-Acuna remains in custody pending that hearing.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Edgardo J. Rodriguez and Megan Eyes of the Southern District of Texas prosecuted the case.

HSI San Antonio continues to address the serious public safety threat posed by human smuggling organizations and their reckless disregard for the health and safety of the people they exploit. To report suspicious smuggling activity, call 866-348-2423.

HSI is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move. HSI’s workforce of more than 8,700 employees consists of more than 6,000 special agents assigned to 237 cities throughout the United States, and 93 overseas locations in 56 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.

ICE breaking news HSI Harlingen investigation leads to guilty plea for human smuggling resulting in child’s death Government Agency News