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Mastermind who stuffed 25 immigrants into SUV in smuggling attempt sentenced to 15 years following fatal wreck with big rig 

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The man who organized the smuggling of 25 migrants in a single SUV has been sentenced to 15 years in prison after the vehicle slammed into a big rig. 

The accident happened back in March 2021 near Holtville, California. Jose Cruz Noguez was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Thursday, July 14th, 2023 after pleading guilty earlier this year. 

According to ABC 7, Cruz Noguez arranged for the modification of a Ford Expedition and a GMC Yukon by removing seats so more people could be stuffed inside. He also drove the route before the vehicles set off to ensure no law enforcement was around. 

25 people were crammed into the Ford Expedition, and another 19 were put into the GMC. A section of the border fence was removed so that the vehicles could get through to California from Mexico. 

Shortly after crossing, the Yukon caught fire and the driver fled, leaving the Expedition to continue. The Expedition was eventually struck by a tractor trailer when it pulled in front of the rig from a stop sign. 13 people died in the accident. The truck driver sustained moderate injuries in the incident.

“Cruz Noguez organized one of the most callous and inhumane smuggling attempts that law enforcement has responded to in this district,” U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman said. “He and his co-conspirators treated these individuals like a worthless commodity.”

Cruz Noguez also admitted to still trying to collect money for the trip from the survivors of the crash. He will serve 15 years in prison.

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