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Illegal Immigrants Get Prison For Fatal Smuggling Crash
Wreck On Wolf Creek Pass Killed 2, Injured 18 Others

POSTED: 12:56 pm MDT July 22, 2005

DENVER -- Two men were sentenced to 6½ years in prison Friday after pleading guilty to federal immigration charges stemming from the fatal crash of a pickup packed with 20 other people.

Prosecutors said Jose Angel Crispin-Diaz and Leonardo Cordova-Perez, who both entered the United States illegally from Mexico, were driving the 20 illegal immigrants to Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama and Florida when the pickup rolled off Wolf Creek Pass in southwestern Colorado on March 13. Slideshow: Fatal Wolf Creek Crash Pictures

Two people were killed and four were critically injured. The Colorado State Patrol said the pickup was going 75 mph in a 45-mph zone. Prosecutors said 14 people were sitting in the bed under a camper shell and eight were in the cab.

"I know we all have to pay for what we do. I know that God will punish me for committing this sin as well," Crispin-Diaz said through a translator.

U.S. District Judge Walker Miller said there was no justification for the men's decision to speed at dawn on a mountain road.

The men pleaded guilty on April 20 to charges of transporting aliens unlawfully present in the United States for financial gain and resulting in death.

Prosecutors said a smuggler gave Cordova-Perez money for gas and a list of passengers. In exchange for driving the others, the smuggler excused the $600 Cordova-Perez owed for help getting into the United States, prosecutors said.

Crispin-Diaz agreed to help after being offered $500 and free passage to Florida, prosecutors said.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents determined the passengers had paid up to $1,800 each to be taken to their destinations.

Previous Stories:

* March 14, 2005: Pickup Crash That Injured 20 Claims Second Life
* March 13, 2005: Pickup Truck Crash Kills One, Injures 21 Migrants