After New Mexico heat kills migrant, a Mexican national sentenced to 10 years in prison

After New Mexico heat kills migrant, a Mexican national sentenced to 10 years in prison

DOÑA ANA COUNTY, N.M. (KRQE) – In the summer of 2023, Border Patrol found several migrants traveling in the desert in Doña Ana County. One died of heat exposure, and now 40-year-old Rafael Radillo-Bernal has received a federal prison sentence for his role in the incident.

Law enforcement found Rafael Radillo-Bernal, a Mexican national, traveling with several migrants in the New Mexico desert after Texas Department of Public Safety Officers received a tip from a group of undocumented individuals. After questioning, two witnesses claimed that Radillo-Bernal was a foot guide helping smuggle the migrants, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) says.

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Eventually, Radillo-Bernal pled guilty to transporting an illegal alien resulting in death. Now, a federal judge has given Radillo-Bernal a 10-year prison sentence.

After he serves his prison sentence, Radillo-Bernal will face deportation proceedings, the DOJ says. Another individual, Estrada-Velasquez, also pled guilty to a role in the event and received a 36-month prison sentence.

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“Those involved in human smuggling operations, including foot guides, drivers, and coordinators, face severe legal consequences if caught and prosecuted,” the DOJ said in a press release. “Human smuggling is a federal crime under U.S. law, with penalties that can include hefty fines and lengthy prison sentences, especially in cases involving death, serious injury, or other aggravating factors.”