Human Smuggler Gets 115 Months in Prison for 2008 Drowning Case

The U.S.Attorney's Office in Phoenix announced that the man convicted of leading four Guatemalans to a watery death has been sentenced to close to 10 years in prison.

Juan Pablo Moreno-Gonzalez, 27, was sentenced to 115 months in federal prison for his role in the deaths of the four men, whom he was trying to sneak into the country illegally.

Moreno-Gonzalez pleaded guilty in October 2008 to conspiracy to transport illegal aliens into the country after admitting to authorities he was helping illegals sneak in so he could make a little cash.

The run-of-the-mill smuggling operation hit a snag, however, when four Guatemalans Moreno-Gonzalez was supposedly helping drowned in an irrigation canal the men were trying cross.

According to authorities, Moreno-Gonzalez was driving on State Route 87 with about 20 illegal immigrants in the back of his van, when police tried to pull him over. Considering that he had 20 illegal immigrants in his van, Moreno-Gonzalez didn't stop.

Instead, he drove the van into the desert, going at least 80 mph, before he came to the San Tan High Line canal, where he stopped, ordered everyone out of the van and offered some sound advice: "Don't get caught."

Perhaps "does everyone know how to swim" may have been a more fitting inquiry, considering the outcome, but the occupants of the van followed Moreno-Gonzalez over a barbed wire fence, where most jumped into the canal -- four never made it out.

At the time of the incident, Moreno-Gonzalez was free on a pre-trial release before he was set to stand trial for another incident, where authorities say he assaulted a federal officer.

Moreno-Gonzalez is in custody and expected to stand trial for the assault charge on March 9.

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