Photo: ALLISON DINNER/AFP/Getty Images
It was the afternoon of a Christmas day when the guide of a group of undocumented migrants, a young Latino of American nationality, was driving near the border and was guided by directions he received on his cell phone.
Even though it was just after five in the afternoon, the driver drove for a while and then parked in an overnight rest parking lot.
Suddenly, three people got into the car and the driver, Kevin Antonio Quevedo Moncada, began driving towards Los Angeles from the immediate vicinity of the border near Otay Mesa in San Diego County.
They had chosen that day at that time because they thought the authorities would be careless after Christmas Eve dinner on a freezing day. But Quevedo Moncada, a 23-year-old resident of Orange County, did not imagine that from the moment he approached the border, he was being watched by US authorities.
Border patrol officers parked several vehicles at an inspection checkpoint on the road on which Quevedo Moncada was advancing, who, upon seeing them, sped up and drove between the patrols in a zigzagging fashion.
The young man managed to evade all the cars, except the last one, which was at the exit of the highway checkpoint, which he hit in his flight without caring that an agent was next to that patrol car.
At that moment, he began a pursuit of border patrol vehicles, while he continued on a winding, wet and unlit road until, apparently due to speed, he lost control of the car in which he was fleeing and crashed it into a tree.
One of the migrants was thrown out of the car, while Quevedo Moncada and the other two people who were with him were trapped inside the vehicle.
When the paramedics arrived, they declared that the person who got out of the car due to the impact had died, it was Christmas night 2021.
The other two passengers who survived were hospitalized in critical condition. One of them suffered, among other injuries, a broken jaw, a collapsed lung, eight broken ribs, and injuries to his spleen and kidneys, and had to be placed in a medically induced coma before being stabilized.
In the reconstruction of the accident, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) concluded that Quevedo Moncada’s car was traveling at speeds of up to 93 miles per hour on a curve with a speed limit of 35 miles per hour when it crashed.
The federal prosecutor’s office in San Diego accused Quevedo Moncada of causing the death of a person he was transporting for economic reasons, of injuring two others for the same reason, and of attacking an officer with a deadly weapon, in reference to using his car to invest the patrol that hit when fleeing and that was close to running over an officer.
The combination of the charges faced the 23-year-old with a potential life sentence, according to documents obtained by La Opinión.
When the two migrants who survived the accident recovered, they were detained as witnesses to the charges that the authorities made against Quevedo.
However, the federal court in San Diego only sentenced Quevedo Moncada to four years and three months in prison, after accepting the charges, but modified.
The court relied on the testimony of Quevedo Moncada and one of the survivors of the accident, Jesús Gael García Sánchez, to determine that the young man from Orange County did not act as a human trafficker, but that someone else offered to pay him two thousand dollars. for each of those three people if you transported them from Otay Mesa.
It also determined that the young man did not try to take the life of the officer who was at risk, but that he had not seen that officer when he tried to flee, and the damage was reduced to the patrol car hit at the highway checkpoint.
Now that the driver has been sentenced, the two migrants will be deported to Mexico.
However, the federal prosecutor in San Diego, Randy Grossman, declared that the accident would not have happened if Quevedo Moncada had not volunteered to make money for someone who did not care if someone died.
“This was an aggravated crime motivated by profit and committed without regard to human life; the passengers were treated like expendable cargo with predictably tragic results,” said the chief prosecutor in San Diego.
The head of the border patrol in San Diego, Aaron Heitke, declared for his part that “to prevent tragedies like this, it is a priority that we identify that human smugglers are only interested in making money without caring that there may be fatalities in their business.” .
The patrol chief described migrant smuggling as an inhumane business.