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The Matassini Law Firm, P.A. Your trusted legal advisors since 1976

Man Facing Federal Charges for Human Smuggling After 4 Migrants Found Dead


A Florida man is facing federal charges after a family of four Indian migrants were found frozen to death during a blizzard in a van. Two others were recovered alive and several more were found having fled the van on foot. The defendant is not being charged for the death of migrants, only for illegally transporting them across U.S. borders. Their final destination, had they not died beforehand, was Canada.

The defendant has been charged with human smuggling.

Analyzing the law 

Title 8, U.S.C. § 1324 makes it unlawful to transport individuals who are not citizens of the country through the United States. The rule further makes it unlawful to conceal, harbor, or encourage or induce unauthorized aliens to come into the country or aid and abet their transport through the country. It often happens that the “coyote” involved in these types of transactions subjects the illegal aliens to dangerous conditions that can sometimes be fatal as it was in this case.

In this case, the defendant could face 20 years in prison for each death that occurred. Typically, the federal government will stack charges when charging a defendant and then leave room to plead out the deal later.

Felony murder rule 

The federal government has a specific set of crimes that can trigger a felony murder rule. Human smuggling is among the crimes that can be charged. In a different matter, two Columbian individuals faced sentences of 45 and 50 years for the role they played in a fatal attempt to smuggle humans across the United States. It remains unclear why the federal government is not pursuing charges based on the deaths of a family of four, but perhaps, but perhaps the government’s case isn’t as strong as it could be. They still have to ensure that they have the right man. The defendant has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Defending against human smuggling charges 

It’s unclear what evidence police have, but since 4 people died in the effort to illegally transport them across the board, chances are the defendant will face enhanced penalties unless he can plead the case down. It is also unclear how the defendant was tied to the deaths, but if prosecutors can establish by witness testimony and DNA that the defendant was indeed the reason for the several illegal aliens being in the United States, then the defendant will likely either plead the charges down or be convicted at trial.

What we do know is that the federal government takes the crime of human smuggling quite seriously and they take it even more seriously when immigrants are injured or killed in the attempt. In this case, there were four deaths, so federal prosecutors are going to take this case seriously.

Talk to a Tampa, FL Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer Today 

The Matassini Law Firm represents the interests of Florida residents who have been charged with federal crimes in Tampa, FL. Call our Tampa criminal lawyers today to schedule an appointment and we can begin discussing defense strategy right away.


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