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Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)

June 17, 2003

Last Victims of Victoria, Texas Smuggling Attempt Identified

HOUSTON-Today, agents with the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, positively identified the last two remaining males who perished in the ill-fated alien smuggling incident in Victoria, Texas in May 2003.

Chelve Benitez- Jaramillo and Rogelio Dominguez-Benitez, both nationals of Mexico, were among 19 individuals who suffocated inside a tractor-trailer. Fifty-five undocumented aliens are known to have survived the ill-fated smuggling attempt.

On June 16, as a result of the efforts of ICE agents and other law enforcement officials, the alleged ring leader of that smuggling enterprise, Karla Patricia Chavez Joya, a/k/a Carla Chavez, and 13 others, were charged in a 58 count federal indictment.

Throughout the course of the investigation, lead by ICE, agents used every investigative resource and technique available in developing critical information that identified Chavez and the other 13 suspects. "Dozens of ICE special agents throughout the United States and in several foreign locations tirelessly pursued every piece of information in this case," said Michael J. Garcia, ICE Acting Assistant Secretary. "In addition to bringing to justice those who were responsible for this senseless act, identifying all of the deceased for the benefit of their families was extremely important to all of us."

Relatives of Benitez-Jaramillo and Dominguez-Benitez will make arrangements to have their loved ones returned to Mexico for a proper burial. The Compeon Funeral Home may release the bodies to the families as early as this Thursday.

Questions may be directed to the Houston Office of Public Affairs for ICE at (281) 774-4605.