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Douglas man sentenced to more than 10 years in prison for transporting migrants

Posted at 1:29 PM, Jul 05, 2024

A Douglas man was sentenced last week by the United States District Court to more than 10 years in prison for transportation of illegal aliens for profit resulting in death.

Manuel Victor Gastelum, 27, pleaded guilty to the charge in January, according to a news release from the United States Attorney's Office, District of Arizona.

Gastelum was also sentenced to 12 months for violating conditions of his federal probation from a prior alien smuggling conviction, the news release said.

According to the news release, Gastelum picked up eight undocumented migrants near the border to transport them further into the United States. Gastelum began driving recklessly on Interstate 10 near Vail and lost control off the vehicle, causing it to roll several times.

A male passenger was ejected from the vehicle and died at the scene. Several other passengers were transported to the hospital with serious injuries, the news release said.

Gastelum ran from the crash, but was apprehended later that day, several miles away.

Judge Márquez, who presided over the case, emphasized a long sentence was necessary to protect the public, the news release said.