Posted: Monday, November 19, 2012 11:40 am | Updated: 8:25 pm, Mon Nov 19, 2012
Mark Reagan
The Monitor

BROWNSVILLE — Police arrested another man following the deadly Oct. 15 rollover of a Jeep Grand Cherokee on FM 802 in Brownsville that killed two teenagers, police spokesman J.J. Treviño said Monday.

Juan Jose Cruz, 29, is accused of being the spotter during a botched human smuggling attempt, according to police. “He was not in the vehicle and was implicated by the driver as being involved in the smuggling of these people,” Treviño said.

Brownsville Independent School District police pulled over Cruz for a traffic violation Friday on the 3200 block of Alton Gloor Boulevard. A records check on Cruz revealed pending warrants for a charge of smuggling of persons and engaging in organized criminal activity, police said.

Cruz’s bail was set at $500,000.

Martin Abdiel Villarreal-Ramirez, 18, is suspected by police of being the driver of the 1998 Jeep Cherokee that flipped while carrying six undocumented immigrants, and he has been charged with two counts of manslaughter. Villarreal-Ramirez is also charged with transportation and harboring of undocumented immigrants in federal court.

A 13-year-old and 19-year-old were thrown from the vehicle and died. According to testimony during Villarreal-Ramirez’s detention hearing in federal court earlier this month, the 13-year-old who died was acting as a guide in the smuggling attempt.

Villarreal-Ramirez is being held without bail because the court ruled he is a flight risk.

During that hearing, Cruz’s name was brought into testimony, but he hadn’t been arrested at the time.

Homeland Security Investigations Case Agent Alfredo Martinez testified that the Brownsville Police Department traced a phone number found on one of the undocumented immigrants who was taken to a hospital. The phone number lead investigators to a house in Los Fresnos, and Cruz was at that house, the agent testified.

Cruz told the investigators that he knew they were at the residence because of the crash and he could lead them to the vehicle’s driver, the agent testified.

Martinez said that initially Cruz was helping with the investigation but eventually became a suspect.

Smuggling accomplice arrested in deadly Brownsville rollover, police say - The Monitor: Local News