Last Defendant in Deadly Smuggling Case Expected to Plead Guilty

By: AP
By: AP

HOUSTON (AP) - The last of 14 people indicted for their alleged
roles in the nation's deadliest human smuggling attempt is expected
to plead guilty next month. That's according to court documents.
Octavio Torres Ortega is accused of leading an alleged smuggling
ring in an aborted attempt that led to the deaths of 19 illegal
immigrants packed in a sweltering tractor-trailer five years ago.
The 42-year-old Torres Ortega is from San Luis Potosi, Mexico.
He was extradited last year and scheduled to be arraigned April 7.
The man was originally arrested by Mexican authorities in August
2003, three months after the aborted smuggling attempt. But in
2005, charges against him were dropped by a Mexican judge. He was
arrested again in 2006 and held until his extradition.
More than 70 immigrants were being transported from South Texas
to Houston when the driver abandoned the trailer at a truck stop
near Victoria, about 100 miles southwest of Houston.
The truck driver, Tyrone Williams, was sentenced to life in
prison. He was the only defendant who faced a possible death
Others indicted have either been convicted, pleaded guilty or
had charges dismissed. Those convicted received sentences ranging
from time served to 23 years in prison.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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