A federal grand jury has indicted a second Mexican national in a rollover accident that resulted in the deaths of two illegal immigrants last month.
An indictment issued Thursday charges both Ramses Castellano-Lin, 25, and Noe Luna-Escanola, 18, with transporting illegal aliens resulting in death. The charges stem from an Oct. 11 rollover on U.S. 191 near Moab that ejected at least three of the van's 16 occupants, none of whom was wearing a seat belt.
Previously only Castellano-Lin had been indicted. Investigators had previously thought that Luna-Escanola, the driver at the time of the accident, was 17 years old. Federal authorities believe that Castellano-Lin was the coordinator and original driver, said Melodie Rydalch, spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney's Office. Luna-Escanola was also charged because he is an adult and was driving the vehicle, she said.
Luna-Escanola was in custody in Texas and will be returned to Utah to face charges, according to the U.S. Attorney's office. Authorities were searching for Castellano-Lin, who left the hospital where he was being treated in Grand Junction, Colo.
If the two are convicted they could each face a maximum penalty of life in prison or death, but Rydalch said it's unlikely the death penalty be pursued.
The investigation is ongoing. U.S. Attorney for Utah Paul Warner has said federal officials believe Castellano-Lin was hired by a larger immigration smuggling network to transport the group of Mexican and Guatemalan nationals from Arizona to various parts of the United States.
"It's always our ultimate goal to go as high up as we can to stop this kind of thing from happening again," Rydalch said.
Juana Ixcuna-Chic and Amalia Perez-Lucas, both nationals from Guatemala in their early 20s, died, and others suffered serious injuries.